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Having a Mental Breakdown Over Dune at 6AM

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Personal Blogs

The Many Conflicting Feelings of Watching Today’s Impeachment Trial

Anyone want to talk about it? 


Photo by Daryan Shamkhali on Unsplash

I’m an American millennial, raised on stories of people huddling around tv sets to watch the first space flights. All my life, I’ve been told by those people that we should be proud to be American, grateful to be born here. 

I think I’ve always fought with mixed feelings about that. 

You know my generation didn’t have space flights. We didn’t have the unity of innovation, discovery. We don’t have the American dream, not covered in this much medical and student loan debt. Our first “huddle around the tv” moment was the felling of the Twin Towers. I was in kindergarten, and began my education in patriotism and Americanisms not just on that day, but the weeks after. 

I wish, so desperately, that we had science binding us together. That we encouraged the most critical thinkers, the adolescent geniuses studying physics to save their families from failing coal towns. What I got was different, was lessons in terrorism and brainwashing, in turning away from the educated to embrace the cowboys of the world. The ones with the guns, who talk louder and have simpler things to say. 

I want America to succeed. I know the “true patriots” won’t like any of what I just said. But I do believe in this country, despite all that’s happened. 

I just don’t entirely know why anymore. 

Watching the House vote on Impeaching President Trump, for the second time, brings up a lot of emotions for me.

I imagine it’s that way for most people. Finding someone neutral on this subject would be a feat, in honesty. But it bothers me how conflicting these are for me. In turns, revolving, I find myself: 

  • Optimistic. It seems, finally, that the actions and words thrown so carelessly around for decades could have consequences. That the Trump strategy (not unique to him) of acting more ludicrously and offensively each day after the next could stop bringing him fame, money, and success. That he can’t distract us from a previous scandal with a new one. That there could be consequences and fair application of law. 
  • Bitter. There is a part of me that feels this is too little, too late. The part that never quite recovered from being shocked that he was elected at all. The part that stares at medical bills turning into credit card debt just a little too long. The part that feels betrayed by this country too many times in my short adult life so far. How will they find a way to fail me this time? 
  • Passionate. Justice feels so close, for the first time. Could it be possible? Can the law be applied evenly? Will it apply to these white men, the kind who truly believed they could just walk back into their normal lives after breaking, robbing, and using weapons to express themselves? Can we take control back from the loudest voices, to the coolest heads again? 
  • Bored. The votes go on forever, don’t they? I spent an hour with a procedural vote I still don’t understand happening in the background. I don’t know if I find it comforting or alarming that this is how democracy works. How has it taken a week to vote on this? Seven nights of sleeping in the presidential bed, of controlling the military, of having the rights to pardon those who don’t deserve it? Seven days until we tried? 

I don’t know how to find steady ground. My relationship with patriotism has always been tumultuous, too hot and too cold all at once. Is this how it really is supposed to be?

I have no way to know. 

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Uncategorized

A White Uprising

Is it possible for a coup attempt to be privileged? 


Photo by Caleb Perez on Unsplash

Yesterday, domestic terrorists breached the Capitol Building, seat of civics for the United States of America.

Obviously, there are numerous questions worth asking about this event. What lead to it, who is responsible, and most importantly, what do we do next?

I should be clear, just in case. I denounce wholeheartedly the actions of those individuals. I don’t know what comes next, but what I want most is justice to prevail, for there to be repercussions for these actions. That this isn’t treated like an interesting little viral stunt, and that it genuinely results in punishments.

All rights belong with those whose tweets are embedded here.

But I also like to think of things on a global scale, in general. A lot of the world has made their opinions on yesterday’s events clear, and leave little to wonder. It does not fail my notice, however, that many of those voices are other English speaking or European nations. And, since it’s my first time living through a coup attempt, I have to ask:

What do nations who have more numerous, more successful coup’s think of us today?

It’s not the most pressing question, and I don’t mean to diminish the serious nature of what occurred yesterday. But I’m sitting at work, feeling shell shocked and empty, and could use opinions outside information.

I have to imagine the answer to be one of two possibilities. Either:

A. This is a damaging blow to the idea of democracy. Even the U.S. can’t make it work.

or:

B. They’re so privileged that even when there’s a coup d’état, it doesn’t succeed and almost no one dies.

Is that a terrible thought to think? I’m terrified that someone will take that as a diminishment of what occurred yesterday. But I wonder it. On a day where the full hypocrisy of the American legal system was on display, I question everything with my white, cis, middle American privilege. There is footage of police letting terrorists into the Capitol Building.

@marcus.dipaola

Group just pushed Capitol police

♬ original sound – Marcus DiPaola
All rights to Marcus DiPaola, a reporter you may want to check out.

The same police who dragged disabled people and teenagers out of that very building for sitting in it.

Less than a hundred people have been arrested, as far as I know, on a day where pieces of the Capitol Building were ripped off as trophies.

All rights belong with those whose tweets are embedded here.

Where everything was bragged about on social media, the whole time.

All rights belong with those whose tweets are embedded here.

Where these violent, angry, unpatriotic people may very well get away with it all, urged on and protected by the sitting president of the United States, and the police force.

Even in this, are we privileged? I sit at work, trying to carry on, because what else can I do? I am surrounded by this discordant feeling, that everything seems normal and unchanged. Is that typical, when your nation’s government is under a stress never seen before? When law and order doesn’t seem to be working?

And how privileged am I that I only have to wonder these things now, feel these things today?

All rights belong with those whose tweets are embedded here.

Please tell me what you’re thinking and feeling, because I don’t trust my own viewpoint today.

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Personal Blogs

Why Trump Wears Facepaint

I don’t like him — but I think we need to give him more credit. 


Outside of his unique manner of speaking, personal appearance may be the easiest part of President Trump to make fun of. Far before he became America’s 45th president, Trump was a prominent conversation piece in late night talk shows and other media. Making fun of a reality tv star’s appearance is hardly beneath the likes of Stephen Colbert or Jimmy Fallon, and the Donald Trump of Apprentice fame was exactly the species of “celebrity” late night shows are built upon. 

But suddenly, he was president. 

It felt strange, in the aftermath. There were, of course, more important questions in the line of “what happens next” than how late night television entertainment would react, but it was certainly a question. Was it right to keep making shallow, below the belt punchlines out of a sitting president? At the same time, could it really be ignored? More than once, I’ve heard my mother moan at the television, asking “where are his handlers? Who is doing his makeup?” as Trump’s clearly unnatural signature look stands in stark contrast to a stately Oval Office or American flag background. 

I think we’d all assumed that, as President, something would change. The clearly unnatural fake tan and comb-over hair would go, swapping in Hollywood fame for formal attire and addresses. The exaggerated fit fine, after all, in the world of celebrity. But politicians are meant to age, to be concerned with reality instead of reality tv. 

It’s taken me the full length of his presidency to realize that not only would the look not go; it could not go. 

Trump speaks as though he is better than other people. Whether or not you believe that he is, whether or not he truly believes it, the simply fact is that he speaks as though it were true. He’s neither the first celebrity or politician to do so, nor do I think he will be the last. Personally, I’m neither impressed nor convinced. But it’s obvious that a lot of people are. Not the majority of Americans, according to the last election. But only by a small, electoral college relevant margin. 

I don’t think it would work without the look. 

It sounds ridiculous. If Trump is so great (or believes he is so great), why cover himself from hairline to neck in pigments and paint? Why try to go darker, when white supremacists are some of your biggest fans? Why torture your hair into a comb-over, when it everyone knows the hair it covers over is lost? 

I thought for years that it was about self-image. That this is how Trump sees himself. Not as someone who can age, or look sickly. Someone invincible and ever present. 

However, as the election draws near, and I’m constantly reminded through signs and social media posts that Trump is, in fact, popular, I’m working on a new theory. I think the hair and the spray tan is for us. I think it, like so much of what Trump says or does, is about image. Like forcing the secret service to sit in an enclosed car with you while you’re simultaneously waving at fans and being treated for COVID, the image is everything. 

Honestly, even those who hate Trump treat him like he’s special. It’s part of his mythos, the belief that he is different from the rest of us. That he lives in a separate reality, one with power and money and fame. That he isn’t a human man, not like the rest of us. 

It simply isn’t true. The fame is infamy. The money is composed of more wishes than riches — in fact he’s in more debt than the rest of us (according to the New York Times). Of power there certainly is some. But not as he wants it to be, as he resorts to lies over seemingly small issues like the size of the crowd at his inauguration, actually prompting an equally petty response

We treat Trump like he’s a character, larger than life, living differently than the rest of us.

It’s not just his supporters. I’ll admit “the cult of Trump” is hard evidence that something is wrong. But the detractors treat him differently too, see him as an embodiment of some idea, some belief, rather than just a man. For some, he is the face of white supremacy. For others, the excesses of Hollywood, or the embodiment of toxic masculinity in American culture. He is the overly zealous patriot, the destroyer of government, and the chosen one of God. All at once.

While he certainly is those things, at times, I think we forget that he is also something else. He is a man. Elderly, fallible, and limited, as we all are. He get power from your belief in that. The belief that he can do what he wants, that he is more than us. We ask him questions about whether he’ll leave office if he loses the election. Why do we do that? No one asked that to Obama, or Bush, or Washington or Lincoln. When did this become his choice? 

There is a reason Trump paints his face. The orange man, typing in all caps on Twitter at three in the morning gets to do these things. It’s not just his physical appearance, but that plays a big part. He’s memorable, this character, with the fluorescent skin and specific pattern of speech. He’s easily replicable on SNL or the Simpsons, and seems to live more in their world than ours, doing things only their writes could expect. 

This is a worrying trait in a servant of this reality’s public. 

One only has to look at the number of articles, retweets, and shares on the post of this photo to see that it’s working. I myself had to look at the “real” side of the picture multiple times to truly feel as though I understood what I was seeing. For me, it is only in the contrast that I see how taken in I am with the Trump persona. How differently I think of him, compared to any other human. 

Same picture as above. A modified picture of President Trump, edited to show him without spray tan or combover hair.
Rights still belong to JordanRivers_NZ.

Without the spray tan, without the fake hairdo, he looks exactly like many, many elderly white men I know. Men who are racist, and called out as such. Men who are isolated, and lonely, because no one wants to associate with hateful. Men who see the grandkids at Christmas time, but not more. Men who are greedy, and power hungry, and seen throughout history. Regular Trump reminds me of Newt Gingrich, of Putin. 

This is why Trump doesn’t care if you make fun of him. Trump doesn’t care what people say about this appearance, or the impossible to ignore fact that it is fake. This is why Trump puts in time and effort to look exactly like this. Because with Trump, image is power. Every sign points to this, that he has gotten through life using his name to leverage money, business, and loans. Without the ideal of Trump, without the name and image he’s manufactured, he would have as much access to multi-million dollar loans as you and I. Without this image, he would not be president. It is not a gaffe, a delusion, or a mistake. 

Trump has done this on purpose, and it is working. 


Make sure to vote. 

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Book Reviews Personal Blogs

Why My YouTube “Career” Crashed and Burned

Do I sound defensive?


Now should be the time for I, the hobbyist extraordinaire. I’m at home, working in short bursts when my coworkers get a break from teaching their children. It used to be that my sick time each month would be used before it truly accrued, unable to go four weeks without an extra day at home doing “real work”. And laundry.

Now I have a surplus of sick time, but stagnant blogs and channels.

So what happened? Why isn’t quarantine my most productive time? What have I been up to, if not working, in life or in my job?

Honestly, if you can, please tell me. I genuinely I don’t know. Where has the time gone? How many months has it even been? What did I do with them? It’s too much to always expect someone to have something to show for their time, but I don’t seem to have the memories. I fluctuate between feeling that no time has passed since March, and years have passed.

The most confusing part is that I’ve gotten views since I was gone. Heck, I’ve gotten views on these blogs, around five a week but that’s more than I ever expected to show. Where are these people coming from? What brought them here, where I won’t even show?

I will probably never know.

I’m not sure I’m fit for the life of a creative. Everything always seem much nicer in my head, and there’s always a better time to start. I can’t quit my job because I’m American and diabetic. I’m trying to go back to school, so I’m busy. It’s quarantine, so I’m sharing my apartment with my partner and I work better when I’m alone.

None of those things feel true. I’ve put hundreds of hours into video games over the last six months — I couldn’t spare one for a blog? (let’s be real, I don’t proofread these like I should) I couldn’t record something, just to keep the habit? I couldn’t write a draft of anything, for my entire life?

I start so many projects, and drop them even faster. I don’t know how to get over the planning phase, how to translate the feeling that is in my head to true reality. If my thoughts could make novels, or videos, I’d be the most prolific content producer you’ve ever seen. But dreaming feels like doing to me and somehow, some part of me can’t tell the difference.

So if you’re here, I’m sorry. It feels arrogant to assume anyone cares, or ever did care. And I hate that yet another one of my creations is just me venting about my lack of progress with creating anything else. I guess it’s all I can focus on because it’s all I’m feeling. I should do better. Not even in quality, just quantity and variety.

So here’s to the optimism of many, many more terrible blogs, and awkward videos. May they be plentiful, and poorly done.

Amen.

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Book Reviews

A Woman in the Window

Buzzed Book Review

Book: https://www.amazon.com/Woman-Window-Novel-Finn/dp/0062791451

The Movie: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6111574/

Knives Out Movie: https://knivesout.movie/

Outro Music: “The Papergirl” by The Whole Other

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxfzyJ-HvEZbGmubAmfcsfQ/featured

Channel Art and Thumbnails created with Canva – https://www.canva.com/

Video Edited with Hitfilm Express – https://fxhome.com/express

or Adobe Rush – https://www.adobe.com/products/premiere-rush.html

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Personal Blogs

Failing to Dye My Hair Blue

What Arctic Fox Does to Dark Brown/Brunette Unbleached Hair

If you’ve ever wondered what Arctic Fox’s semi-permanent dyes do to darker brown/brunette hair, this is the video for you! I try to dye my hair blue without bleach, and my hair is not at all blue when its done.

Recommended Arctic Fox Colors for Unbleached Hair

Colors used in the video:

Music: “Chimez” by Dan Henig
(free via the YouTube Audio Library)

Outro Music: “The Papergirl” by The Whole Other

Channel Art and Thumbnails created with Canva

Video Edited with Hitfilm Express

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Personal Blogs

I Failed NaNoWriMo for the Fifth Year in a Row

It’s just not happening.


Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

I’ve been trying to complete National Novel Writing Month for at least five years now, without a single success. Hell, I don’t think I’ve written ten thousand words as a result of NaNoWriMo, which is a tenth of the goal. 

Maybe that fact should be embarrassing, but I’m here to write fiction, not lies. 

The obvious question is: why can’t I finish NaNoWriMo? 

I’ve tried as a college student with hours and hours of free time. I’ve tried as an established blogger, who only had to write blogs. I’ve tried specific novel ideas, blank slates, and streams of consciousness. But I’ve yet to have partial or any success at all. 

When it comes down to it, the answer has to be willpower. NaNoWriMo has it all. Self-motivation, deadlines, external motivation through message boards and frequent check-ins. All you have to do is have an idea. 

More than anything, I think that may be the part that taunts me. There’s a place on NaNoWriMo’s very helpful website where you can make a description of your project, down to the title and front cover of your draft novel. All of it is optional, but somehow I find it disheartening. 

I simply don’t have an idea to present. How do you obtain an idea worthy of a feature length novel? Do you stumble upon one in the dead of night tripping over it in the dark? Can you fall asleep and dream it into reality? Or do you have to keep writing through the maze, until you find it there? 

Well, I don’t know. I used to think I had too many ideas, and too little discipline. Now I think I’m missing both. 

For 2019 I went into NaNoWriMo thinking I would fail. Write 50,000 words in one month, when I never have before? To no one’s surprise, my attitude didn’t help me write more, and my prediction ended up being true. 

Can we make December a “write 5,000 words” month instead? 


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Personal Blogs

How Long Before We Stop Putting Gender on Wedding Showers?

Ever a bridal shower, never a groom shower.


Photo by Casey Chae on Unsplash

American wedding traditions are bonkers. 

Yes, that’s a technical term. Bonkers. Absolutely bananas. As a spinster of twenty-six, I’m just now starting to discover wedding preparations firsthand, through liberal use of my more successful friends. 

And speaking as a member of the millennial generation, I think sometimes we take for granted how rapidly traditions are changing. Mostly to our benefit too. We’re often one of the first, maybe second generation to live with a significant other before marrying them, or even agreeing to marry them. More and more we care less and less about what gender those significant others are, or what household chores that means they should do. 

Wedding traditions are one of the exceptions, stubbornly remaining unchanged despite the times. 

I don’t think I’ve been in a room with that many adult women before. Not when it’s solely adults, and only those who identify as women. It shouldn’t have been a strange experience, I know, but I kept wondering — 

Why couldn’t the bride’s father or uncles, or grandfather be there?

Excuse my crassness for a moment, but did this tradition start as a way to prep young women on how to “please a man”? One of the gifts the bride opened did have a terribly short nightgown in it. Everyone giggled, and the bride did blush. 

But this is a woman who has a lease with her soon-to-be-husband. She blushed because she hates being the center of attention, and because we were in a church. Not because of some outdated notion of having her hymen broken the night after the wedding. 

No, what she really got was either travel items (their honeymoon was out of the country), jewelry (which is always a good gift), or kitchen supplies. 

Honestly, what she got the most of was silverware. Two packs, one with forty-odd pieces, and one with seventy-six

(side note: I wish I had gotten a better look at what was in that pack. Even with two types of forks and two types of spoons, that’s 15 of each piece, plus one other item of an unknown type. It doesn’t make any sense.)

I started apartment living when I was in college, choosing to live away from campus in my junior year. I (and my roommates) was lucky that my mother had been saving up extra pieces of cookware in her attic for just such an occasion. We needed everything. Pots, pans, plates, silverware, glasses — the list just went on and on. I was well over childhood at that point, but it was still my first “adult” Christmas, as I asked for a set of pots and pans. We had scrounged up a mismatched set of plastic plates from clearance bins (some holiday themed or with cartoon animals on them) and our silverware was definitely all stolen from somewhere. The nicest items in the apartment were mismatching wine and champagne glasses that cost seventy-five cents at Goodwill. When I broke up with my ex last year I gave him the silverware (a hand-me-down collection from various apartments and roommates through the years). I worded it as a kindness, but honestly I wanted to own a set that matched for the first time in my life. 

My grandparents talk all the time about the set of china they got as a wedding gift. They got two in fact — one for every day and one fancy set that gets used only at Christmas. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated with the idea that they store a whole twenty-person set of dinner plates, salad plates, bowls, fruit cups, forks, salad forks, spoons, soup spoons, and butter knives somewhere in their home all year without using it. 

But that was traditional. You left home when you got married, and started your own home. Friends and family outfitted you with every item off a list of things you’d need for your own home. Almost everything except furniture would come from either a wedding gift to both of you, or a gift to the bride at her shower. Women were the homemakers after all. So the wooden spoon grandma whacked you with when you annoyed her in the kitchen probably came from her bridal shower. The women in her life prepared her with items to help her either cook or make babies. 

Well, I can’t speak for everyone of my generation, but I really needed items to help me cook and not make babies, and I needed them almost a decade before I’ll probably be married. And so did all my male counterparts. 

When we move out of our parent’s homes earlier in life, what becomes the purpose of a bridal shower? Sure, there’s always something a home needs, or a fancy new kitchen utensil. The bride-to-be got a fancy new air fryer at the shower, in fact. But it was given to both her and the groom, knowing full well this was something the groom wanted, and would be using. So why couldn’t it be given to directly to him? 

Conversation between the bride to be and the author of the article. The bride states men joined her bridal shower at work.
The Bride-To-Be in grey, myself in blue.

And that’s not even touching the accessibility of it all. I think the groom was a little disappointed, felt a little left out. Why couldn’t he have a party of some kind with his side of the family that day? And even more concerning, what do you do if the wedding isn’t for a heterosexual couple? 

What do you do for a lesbian wedding? Are there two bridal showers, or does every woman attend one, including both brides? If there are two bridal showers, and you’re invited to both, do you end up purchasing three gifts? How do gay men own any utensils? 

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the bridal shower immensely. We played a lot of games about how well the bride and groom know each other, and how well we knew them. There was a potluck of baked goods, and party favors. It was great to see the outpouring of love for the bride from both sides of the family. I love her too, and she greatly deserves it. 

I just wish more people could be included in the fun. 


Categories
Personal Blogs

Yeah, I’m Behind, Okay?

All great authors work on the fly, right?


Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

I have an image of an author, and it’s probably untrue. Frazzled, they work in the poorly lit corner of a coffee shop or a den. Paper is everywhere, even if they work on a computer, and they wipe at black ink on their forehead like they’re sweating it. Honestly, sometimes I think that’s why I have tattoos, because I have half a belief that there’s already ink in my blood.

I have a terrible suspicion that some part of my psychology is trying to create situations where I can better resemble that image. How else could one explain the chronic procrastination, the lack of project commitment, and the many broken self promises? At this point, if I were dating myself, I’d ask for a divorce. My inner author is clearly unreliable. A liar. Just throw the whole thing out.

Sadly, that’s proving impossible. How could one remove a whole section of their self? My mood swings over the last week alone could prove that my inner writer is tired of being ignored. There’s work to be done, and it eats at the parts that harbor guilt.

Part of the problem is that I don’t think I have many good role models of careful, consistent creators. Every author or creator I can think of “suffered”. Did they have to? Who knows? Better question — would they have created better works or worse if they were happy?

I gotta say, I was working far better when I was unhappy. I miss that angry girl. She had hustle, and I appreciate that in a person. She awoke with purpose every day.

Every day Medium recommends for me a new story of “how I made writing a daily habit”, all about people who are successful and make it sound easy. And I’ve stopped reading those articles. Yeah, even I am getting bored of reading about my own failures as a writer. But for some reason the polished image of a true professional doesn’t make sense to me.

My life is not that neat. Is it bad if I like it that way?