2015 In Review: Books

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I didn’t read nearly enough in 2015; there just wasn’t enough time. Lots of people think I sound crazy when I say that because they’re happy if they’ve read 1 book a year, but for me, reading is a necessary fuel for writing and there wasn’t enough of it to spawn even a single new word. Of the things I did find time to read, I actually read more comics/mangas/graphic novels than anything. My appreciation for the art and their ability to get a story across in less pages than books really grew for me in 2015. I suspect that will continue to be true in 2016 and I’m excited about it. Below is a list of the things I read, in the order I read them. The books are all clickable and will take you to my GoodReads reviews on them if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

 

 

Books Read in 2015…

 

 

 

 

Comics/Mangas/Graphic Novels Read in 2015…. 

 

  • Deadman Wonderland, Vol. 1 – 5 by Jinsei Kataoka & Kazuma Kondou
  • Eerie Cuties: The Comic Strip Collection by Gisele Lagace & David Lumsdon
  • Eerie Cuties, Vol. 1-3 by Gisele Lagace, David Lumsdon, & Maria Victoria Robado
  • Garbage Pail Kids: Puketacular, #1
  • Garbage Pail Kids: Love Stinks, #2
  • Ms. Marvel – No Normal, Vol. 1 by Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona
  • Ms. Marvel – Generation Why, Vol. 2 by Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona
  • Ms. Marvel – Crush, Vol. 3 by WillowWilson
  • In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang
  • Super Tales of Emotion #1: Swamp of Sadness by J. Salvador
  • Jem and the Holograms, #1-9 by Kelly Thompson
  • Jem and the Holograms, Holiday Special by Kelly Thompson
  • Jem and the Holograms, Outrageous Annual Kelly Thompson
  • Morning Glories, Vol. 1-5 by Nick Spencer & Joe Eisma
  • The Stonekeeper (Amulet #1) by Kazu Kibuishi
  • New Archie, #1 by Mark Waid & Fiona Staples

 

 

While I plan to try my hardest to buy very little books in 2016 and actually work on all the books in my already existing TBR pile, I’m always open to suggestions for things I should be reading — especially in the comics department since that’s primarily new to me and there’s SO many to chose from. Feel free to leave some recs in the comments below! :)

 

 

2015 In Review: Music

I feel like I didn’t really seek out new music all that much in 2015. Partly because there wasn’t really anyone to corrupt me musically and also partly because I just didn’t have the free time that allows for musical exploration. I think that was a mistake, though, in a way. While it was great having so many years worth of music to fall back in-love with everyday, not finding new musical inspiration is just one reason why my creative well stayed so dry this year. I need to work on that more in 2016 so I don’t find myself in the same place at the end of the year. I only downloaded 178 songs in 2015, that’s half as much as last year, which was half as much as the year before!

 

Of the new music I did discover in 2015, the two bands that stand out the most are…

 

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ISSUES

 

Love Tyler Carter’s clean vocals in contrast with Michael Bohn’s screaming. Love the way they weave metal and hip-hop together. Love how much energy every song packs. Seriously, this band is still young in their existence, but so far their work is super consistent. I can’t wait to see what they put out next!

 

 

 

 

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PVRIS

 

Discovered this band shortly after falling in-love with ISSUES and actually only gave them a shot because of ISSUES. Lynn Gunn’s voice has that smoky, rugged feel and the pop-rock their music has as a whole reminds me a lot of all the reasons I loved Paramore when they first came out. Definitely excited to hear more from this band in the future!

 

And now for the part that’s probably pretty obvious if you’ve been following along for Music Friday

 

Top 10 Most Played Tracks of 2015

 

10. Throne by Bring Me The Horizon

9. Cupid Carries a Gun by Marilyn Manson

8. Falling Apart by Papa Roach

7. Something New by Dance Gavin Dance

6. Fire by Pvris

5. Stingray Affliction by Issues

4. I Am by Hands Like Houses

3. Mind Games (feat. Champs) by The Palisades

2. Uncomfortable by Andy Mineo

1. This Is Not A Game (feat. Miguel) by the Chemical Brothers

 

What were you listening to in 2015? Anything I should have been listening to? 😉

 

 

The Frustration that is LE Dolls

I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d ever feel a real need for a limited edition doll. As far as exclusives or chaser figures go, or the ones that have value at least, I’ve always just thought it was cool if I happened to get one, but never really cared whether I got them or not. I think to date, the only “exclusive” toys I’ve actively pursued were Monster High items, and even with their exclusivity, we’re not talking about forking over a great sum of money to make them mine. I’ve watched my best friend fight the hordes for the exclusive dolls she has and sometimes have to pay unfair prices for the ones she really needed. I always feel so awful for her struggle and I thought that alone would deter me from ever feeling compelled to join the fray, but I learned last week that I was wrong.

 

Tokidoki and Barbie teamed up to release two new LE dolls last week and I’d already been wishing I’d known about Tokidoki back in 2011 when the first one came out because nowadays you’d be lucky to get it on eBay for somewhere between $300 & $800 (which means there’s never even a possibility I could own one). Of the new dolls, one was significantly more exclusive than the other. Naturally I was more drawn to the super limited one, not because of this exclusivity though, but because in my opinion it’s the prettier of the two dolls.

 

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The doll I’m talking about is the Platinum Label Tokidoki Barbie. There were only 999 of her made. And to make that low availability even tougher, Barbie’s site first created a wait line to even shop the event (of which I stayed in for 6+ hours) and then a treasure hunt I knew nothing about to even find the page that doll was being sold on. I was allowed into the site about 2 minutes after the sale started, but by the time I found the secret page for the extra exclusive doll I wanted (we’re talking about maybe 10 minutes total), she was completely sold out already. Literally, in a handful of minutes. It blows my mind. And disappoints me.

 

What makes me even more frustrated is seeing her listed on eBay now for $1K or more. And people are actually bidding on that price, actually willing to pay that much. I guess if I was a rich person, maybe that wouldn’t seem so extreme for something so limited, but right now it just feels insane and disappointing. And I can bet that most Tokidoki fans are not rich.

 

I mean, I know I’m not some marketing expert and I won’t pretend to have any real understanding about toy manufacturing, but I just don’t understand the whole LE world. You have to figure that average toy production has to run in the 100’s of thousands, so a special, limited toy that only produced say 10K would still be a highly sought after doll worth money, but at 10K, there’d be a bigger chance that real fans might actually be able to own one. I just don’t get how one decides to only run 1K of something. Because, in the end, they’re not the one who reaps the profit on it, the scalpers are. I don’t understand how that’s beneficial to the business releasing the product in the first place. Sure, if that day, they only released 1K dolls at $75 a piece they made $75K in those few minutes it took to sell out and that’s great for business. But if you assume the profit on such a product is only 1/3 of that cost, they truly only made $25K. Meanwhile, if only 250 of those 1K LE dolls were purchased by scalpers who will turn around and sell that $75 doll for $1K, they’re making $250K (or $231+/- after their own cost). Those scalpers are winning every time. It just seems like a bad business decision on the creators part.

 

I don’t know, I know I’m just preaching to the choir of doll and toy collectors who also struggle to acquire rare things like this, but I just can’t stop thinking about how frustrating it is. I wish the irritation of it all only turned me further from the desire to want one of these exclusives, but somehow it’s only made me want it more. Still, not enough to ever pay such a crazy price for it, but enough to become a stalker if/when the next one releases. Is this madness they create in the ones who really want their products but fail to get them what they’re banking on when they release these things? Probably. And I guess if that is the objective, they’re clearly succeeding, because I’m not the only disappointed fan still talking about this a week later.

 

Cat Gang

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A couple months ago a white and black cat wandered onto our porch and bothered the crap out of our cat Tay, who watched from the window. No matter how much she hissed at him or how puffy the sight of him made her, he was just not afraid of her. Or us, for that matter. That first night he showed up, we went outside to see if the collar he wore had a tag on it and he came right up to us. Unfortunately, the collar was just a flee collar and this cat looked like it’d been a while since he’d eaten last so we fed him (further irritating our own cat all the while). We took his picture and spread it around on FB to all the local animal pages, but no one ever claimed him as theirs. He came back every night after that, seeking the safeness of our porch and the food he knew we offered.

 

 

After about a week of this, we put a water and food bowl out there permanently and just got in the habit of filling it in the afternoon so it’d be there whenever he showed up. In doing so though, we encouraged a whole gang of cats to seek food and shelter on our porch. And I’m not joking when I say, that black and white cat is the leader (we call him Boss now).

 

At first, they’d all come one after another, slowly creeping up our walkway, looking out for anything alarming, and then only eating what they needed before disappearing for the next cat to have a bite. But then Boss started coming to the porch with a kitten, with not much resemblance, but clearly Boss is looking out for him for some reason, as if it’s his kid. We call that kitten Boots, because he’s primarily black and gray, but has white feet. Once the pair of them started coming, the other cats started joining them, practically standing in a line together for their turn in the bowl. When they’re finished, they don’t even vanish right away, often times they get comfy in our porch chairs and hang out there all night.

 

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So now we’re officially feeding four more cats than the one we own. There’s Boss & Boots, like I mentioned above and Derpy, who’s a Himalayan with crossed eyes, and a little scrawny guy we call Lone Ranger, because he’s still a bit afraid of the rest of the gang and us for that matter. He seems reluctant to hang out around anyone for very long.

 

Getting their pictures has been difficult because unless Boss is around to be brave for them, they keep their distance from us while we’re outside filling the bowls. Boss on the other hand will eat right out of my hand. He even comes up onto the window sill to let us know they’re ready for dinner if we haven’t already filled the bowl for the day. It drives Tay insane.

 

 

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I know I’ve started a dangerous habit with this. Right now it’s okay that they’re outdoor cats because at least they’re eating and have each other, but I know once winter arrives it will kill me knowing they’re out there without warmth. I would take every last one of them in if were even allowed to have the cat we currently have, but it’s not an option in this apartment. I’m afraid to call any of the local agencies to help find them real homes because most of them aren’t no-kill shelters and so I’d basically just be handing them over to death and I can’t bear that now. They have names, they matter to me now.

 

I really don’t know what I should do with them at this point. They trust that we’ll feed them everyday so I can’t stop. They feel safe enough on our porch to sleep there and I’m glad for that, but what do I do when winter gets here and they’re freezing? My porch and food aren’t enough to keep them safe and alive at that point, so how can I save these precious kitties come winter?

 

(Pictured in this post, top to bottom: Boss, Lone Ranger, & Derpy. To see more pictures or full size versions of these cats, click HERE!)

Internet Hiatus

At the end of May I found myself needing a break from this place. Sometimes it’s just too much, you know? Plus, I’d been obsessive over it, spending all my free time on social media instead of doing productive things that actually leave me feeling happy with myself.

 

I told myself I’d just get away from it for June and spend some time reading, which is something I’ve failed at majorly this year. And maybe be able to finally write something after giving myself a much needed dip in the creative well. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up reading all that much, or writing a single word for that matter, and as you can see by the date of this post, it’s August and I’m just now returning. Sort of. But my time away wasn’t a waste. In fact, I was super busy. And not just busy doing things that are or feel like work, though there was some of that too.

 

So what have I been up to? Well, let’s see….

 

I did read a little, but more comics than books. That’s basically been the story of this year. I don’t know what’s gotten me so much more into comics this year than previous years (probably, it’s partly Heather’s fault. 😉 ) but my comic reads and purchases are leading by a landslide. A few of the more notable reads during the hiatus include: Jem & the Hologram Comics, Morning Glories Graphic Novels, and The Haunting of Sunshine Girl Novel.

 

Photography’s been keeping me the busiest outside of my day job, between actual photoshoots and hours of editing. I shot a wedding, a superhero birthday party, a pregnant lady, and a little diva! It’s both weird and awesome how much paid work I’ve gotten photography wise, considering how little I broadcast the business. God’s been good to me this way. As I look toward fall, which is notoriously my “busy” season when it comes to pictures, I’m a little nervous about how I’ll juggle it all alongside wedding prep, but I think I might be able to make it happen with designated weekends for taking ALL the pictures. Sort of like Fall Minis or whatever that trend is… I’ll have more on that later if anyone’s interested.

 

VBS CollageI had two opportunities to work on one of my resolutions during the hiatus. First, I shot most of Vacation Bible School at my church. Not only was it fun capturing all the kids being kids, it was awesome to see how excited they got about Jesus. And just how many of them showed up night after night. My small church saw a record breaking number of 106 attendees! That doesn’t even include all the adults who worked or attended the adult class either. At the end of the week there was a slideshow presented with a bunch of my pictures mixed in. My cheeks were sore from all the smiling I did watching the recap of a great week. I hope I get to do even more next year.

 

 

 

Sharing Table CollageI also finally got to volunteer for the Sharing Tables (aka Soup Kitchen) during the hiatus too. I didn’t take my big camera to capture that, just a few camera phone shots, but it is definitely something I want to commit to every time my church participates. We served the 70-some people that showed up lunch and dessert and then, thanks to the goodness of local grocery stores and everyday people donating their goods, every person gets to leave with a bag of food and necessities to get them through the week. These Sharing Tables are open to them every Saturday and while it was really sad to see how many people have to rely on this to eat and live in general, I am so glad such a thing exists for them. It’s disheartening to see just how many people right around me go without; the veterans, the disabled, families with an abundance of children. Their struggle tugged at my heart in a serious way and I left there feeling both humbled and blessed and really happy I got to serve God this way.

 

My toy collection grew somewhat substantially during the hiatus, but that’s probably no surprise. I was extra excited about all the toys I got in June & July though because for the most part I’d pre-ordered them all months ago and even though they weren’t necessarily slated to release all at the same time, they basically did, leaving me with what seemed like days and days’ worth of toy hauls. Toys received include: Inside Out Funko Pops!, Mystery Minis, and Disney Tsum Tsums, Winnie the Pooh Tsum Tsums, The Breakfast Club Funko Pops!, a full case of Garbage Pail Kids Funko Really Big Mystery Minis, Funko 10” GPK Adam Bomb Vinyl Figure, the 17” Monster High Freak Du Chic doll Gooliope Jellington, and Tokidoki’s Unicorno Series 4! You can see pictures of all them HERE!

 

Some random things I did during the hiatus that are worth noting include: Starting two new subscriptions services in addition to my Loot Crate. One was Nerd Block’s latest venture, Comic Block. I’m still not entirely sure how much I’ll love this in the long term, but I think I’ll probably keep it around until I switch back to Horror Block for Halloween. And I also subscribed to a treat service called Universal Yum, which sends you snacks and treats from different places around the world every month. So far I’ve gotten goodies from Mexico & Japan. It’s been really fun tasting places I’ll probably never get to travel to.

 

My tattoos have changed since the last time I was online. I’ve had two sessions to add color behind the leaves and snowflakes and they finally feel complete! I’m hoping to squeeze one more tattoo in before the wedding, so long as schedules and funds work in my favor. If not, I suppose I’ll have to be patient till next year.

 

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Heath and I went to see Cirque Du Soleil’s Varekai. I’ve always wanted to see a Cirque Du Soleil show, but I guess I was ignorant to the fact that they’re entirely in French. Despite having taken 4 years of honor French in high school, I had no freaking idea what was going on. But it sure was pretty and they’re some crazy talented performers. I think before I make too much of a confused judgment on Cirque Du Soleil as a whole, I should probably see another show first and see if I can follow that story a little better.

 

I actually went to the movies. Twice! As someone who loves film as much as I do, you think I’d go more often, but I just can’t justify the cost and am strangely patient in most cases when it comes to waiting for movies to come out on DVD (probably because it happens so fast these days). That being said, I miss the theater. I used to go A LOT and even though it’s crazy how much it costs nowadays, there’s something about seeing it on that big screen that you start to miss. So, Groupon had a deal and Heath and I just picked whatever looked the funniest, which happened to be Amy Schumer’s TRAINWRECK (and it was perfectly hilarious, btw) and we found ourselves at the movies randomly one day after work. I think it’d been a year since I’d been to the movies so it was odd that I’d find myself there again, for a second time, in the same week. But that following weekend my sister called and said, “We asked Gideon who he wanted to go see Minions (his first theater movie) with, Mommy or Daddy? And he said, “Aunt Sarah,” so I don’t know if you wanted to take him or not, but…” And of course my heart was melting and I was all, “I’ll be right there!” God, I love that kid. He was scared initially, of the bigness of the theater, of the darkness (he’s scared of everything new these days, it’s a phase), but once that screen lit up he was so captivated he forgot all about those fears, he even forgot he had an ice cream sandwich in his hand (and no one ever forgets about ice cream). When it was over he was so excited to see it again on that “Big TV.” And I’m excited about the idea of getting to see kids movies in the theater now, because Aunt Sarah will always be willing to take him. 😉

 

I’ve finally started to panic about the wedding and the lack of planning I’ve done for it thus far. It’s 3 months away now and I’ve only just now locked down a photographer and sort of locked down a caterer, but haven’t decided on a menu yet. There’s still so much to do that even thinking about making a to-do list for it all overwhelms me. I’m sorely regretting not taking this more seriously earlier on in the year. It’s still just going to be a laid back, sort of non-traditional wedding (I keep referring to it as a glorified cookout, but it’s definitely more than that), but that still requires serious effort considering I’m making so much of the decorations and whatnot by myself. I’ve really got to get busy.

 

Ocean City CollageThe most exciting thing I did during the hiatus was taking a real vacation for the first time in ages, to the beach for the first time in over a decade. It was only a 3 day getaway, but it was much needed and oh so fulfilling. My parents had rented a giant beach house and my sister’s family and neighbors came down too. Being at the beach again with my entire family had me nostalgic for my youth and all the vacations we took there when I was a kid. Heck, just being on the boardwalk after so long away from it had all the feels buzzing happily inside me. We did all the necessary, OceanCity things; Candy Kitchen’s Fudge, Fisher’s Popcorn, Thrasher’s Fries, Skee-Ball, and Old Time Black & White Photo booth pictures. We walked a ton and ate a really good seafood restaurant called Hooked, and even got to take home some really pretty blown glass ornaments from the Christmas Village my parents have always gotten their own ornaments from. The waves kicked my butt and Heath and I were both so sunburnt we looked like lobsters, but it was incredibly fun and relaxing. Just the long overdue escape from life we needed. I hope my parents get that place again next year. My camera performed like a champ while we were there, and if you’re interested in seeing pictures from the trip, click HERE!

 

This hiatus was good for me, mentally and physically, and while I did miss the internet a little (Okay, that’s kind of a lie. I mostly only missed Twitter – lol.), I think I need to practice staying away from it a little more often. It’s a bad habit I don’t want to let takeover me again. Because even if I didn’t get all the things I thought I would do done in my absence, I still did a heck of a lot more than I would have had I still been wasting all my free time with it. Stuff that was way more fulfilling than the internet’s ever made me feel. Everyone should take a break from time-to-time. It’s good for you to actually live life, you know? Not just watch how other people are living theirs. 😉

 

What have you been up to while I was gone?

 

 

 

 

Works-In-Progress (or maybe: Projects I *should* be working on)

It’s been a long time since I really talked about writing. I mean, sure, I’ve moaned about my lack of time for it and how creatively dead my brain has been, but when is the last time I really talked about the books themselves? I think it’s been ages, to be honest. Like, possibly years even. Perhaps you don’t even really know anything at all about my completed novel Dreamsters, except that it’s in the horror/thriller category. And so, with the help of some awesome art I commissioned artist and friend, Heather R. Holden, to do, I’m going to talk about my writing – what it’s about, what I’ve got, what I need, and where I’m going with it – and maybe it will not only intrigue you, but help me get back into, you know, actually working on them again. :)

 

 *Click the images to see them larger!*

 

Dreamsters (not an actual title – that is still undecided)

 

About: This story is about a creepy old lady, a girl with a nightmare curse, and a foolishly kind boy who feels compelled to get involved with them both. I consider this story a nod to one of my favorite horror films A Nightmare on Elm Street, though more thriller than horror, maybe. 😉

 

What I’ve Got: A completed manuscript at around 70K words.

 

What it Needs: A completed 2nd draft. I’d started on this a couple months after I finished the 1st draft last year, but there are still major portions of the book, particularly at the end, that need heavy rewriting to finalize a 2nd draft.

 

Where it’s Going: Publication? I hope. It was my intention to have this 2nd draft sharp enough to start looking for an agent this year, but so far this unfortunately hasn’t been the case.

 

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Picture background: This comes from the end of Chapter 2. Milo’s stayed up late to get ahead on some homework and just before going to bed, glances out his window at Mrs. Womack’s house across the street. This is the scene he sees and the lines from the book look like this:

 

Illuminated by the street lamp is a girl in a red plaid, pleated skirt, with black tights and clunky boots, and a black leather jacket being destroyed by the rain. And a boy significantly shorter than her, holding her hand, in a hoodie and cargo pants that look too big for his small frame. Each of them carry just one bag, hardly large enough to hold any decent amount of personal possessions, and they stare at Mrs. Womack’s front door from her gate.

 

I don’t need to see their faces to know who they are.

 

 

Crack the Sky

 

About: I’ll let the main character tell you what Crack the Sky is about. 😉

 

My name is Tilian King and I found a girl in the woods one night. I sound like a fool for saying it, but I swear the lightning led the way.  She was covered in blood; I’m *practically* a saint for saving her. 

 

She claims she’s my guardian angel and that demons took her wings so she can’t protect me. From what, she won’t say.

 

She also claims my girlfriend and father are demons and that my dead mother is an angel like her. I asked her what that makes me, but again, she won’t say.

 

I think she’s f@$%ing insane. Escaped from the looney bin or some shit. It’s somehow both annoying and hilarious to me.

 

Still, and I’d never admit it out loud, it is sort of nice having someone to share the lonely mansion I call home with now, since my dad’s never around. Plus, who doesn’t love poking fun at naiveté? Leilani’s chock-full of it and I’m as rotten as they come.

 

If you’d like to see a few examples of scenes from Crack the Sky, I’d actually posted some when I started this book in 2011 for NanoWrimo. Click HERE! (Note: these scenes were roughly written and have since been polished so they aren’t the final product by any means.)

 

What I’ve Got: About 18K words, or just shy of 1/3 of the story.

 

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What it Needs: The rest? About 50K more words? No, in all seriousness, it needs the meat of the story. Crack the Sky is an intense sort of story, with a great deal of tough decisions and bloodshed. This first 18K has been the introductory phase, the buildup of backstory, and the planted seeds of character growth. Next, things get crazy. 😉

 

Where it’s Going: Oops, I think I sort of answered that above? I guess I could add that it’s not going to have a happy ending. Okay, so it won’t be super awful, but not the happily ever after type of ending that’s all too common these days because life doesn’t always work that way so why should make believe? 😉

 

Picture background: I’d told Heather that if this picture were titled I’d call it, “Torn,” because that’s the feeling I wanted to come across for Tilian. So that it’s not too spoilery, I won’t tell you much about what’s going on in it outside of TORN, but I will tell you who you’re looking at! (L) Mackenzie, Tilian’s Girlfriend (M) Tilian King, POV of the book (R) Leilani, Tilian’s Guardian Angel.

 

 

So, those are my current, big works-in-progress. I have another novel idea that springs up every summer, but never produces much words and another that I hope to eventually return to one day, as it was the first story I ever wanted to make into a novel, but both require a lot of world building and I’m just not sure I’m a good enough writer for that just yet.

 

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If you’ve enjoyed the art accompanying these descriptions and think you’d like some of your own, head on over to Heather’s site for commission guidelines and prices! Or if you’re just a fan of the art and don’t need any for yourself, give her web comic Echo Effect a shot. She’s an excellent storyteller, too!

 

ALL Lives Matter

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(Image Source: PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP)

 

I try very hard to avoid spouting my opinions on matters that don’t directly have to do with me, especially the more sensitive topics like race or religion or politics, which almost always end in a heated state, but I find myself in a such a disturbed state today that I just cannot keep quiet about this.

 

Baltimore is under attack by it’s own citizens, in the foolish name of Justice, and I can’t even handle how sick this makes me feel watching from the sidelines. I’ve never been so glad to not live directly in the city, but even on the outskirts of it, I’m afraid. Afraid for my friends and family that live and work there, afraid for all the business owners whose lives are being turned upside down, afraid for all the citizens who don’t want anything to do with what’s happening but don’t have the option of escape, afraid to see Charm City lose all it’s goodness in a handful of days and for what!?

 

I am all for people being properly punished for unjustified crimes. If those police officers are truly guilty of murder then they deserve the worst. But only them. Not the police department as a whole; certainly not the entire city. One bad seed does not equal a bunch. Bad seeds exist everywhere, in all walks of life. They don’t represent the greater majority. I want to understand how rioting and scheduling “purges” equals justice? What is justice in this case anyway? A man died; nothing will bring him back. This out-lash of violence and destruction only makes you an ugly person, not the hero you seem to think you’re being in the name of Justice. Two wrongs never made a right.

 

I know someone will read this and say, but Black Lives Matter!, but I counter that ALL Lives Matter! Why do people feel so entitled in reacting this way, hurting innocent people who never wronged them in the first place, stealing things that aren’t yours, ruining other people’s property – property they worked hard for? Someone else will probably say I must be racist then for not supporting this supposed justice being sought, to which I’ll just roll my eyes. This has nothing to do with race in my opinion; it’s become more than that now. Those peaceful protests at the start, they were about something real. The mania that’s going on now, that’s not about anything of value. It’s just pure insanity and it needs to stop.

 

There is injustice all over the world: Race vs. Religion vs. Wealth vs. SO MUCH MORE. It’s not a fire to be fought with fire, it’s a battle to be won with intelligence and patience and steadfast. I’m positive the path to peace isn’t a violent one. How have we not evolved enough to understand this yet?

 

The governor has just issued a State of Emergency and the National Guard has stepped in. It’s unreal and terrifying how fast this has escalated. I truly, truly hope people start using their heads and realize what they’re doing to their own home. That this doesn’t help their initial cause, it just makes it worse. There is a better way, people. Wake up.

 

If you’re the praying type, please pray for Baltimore. :/

 

UPDATE: Yesterday, tons of volunteers poured into the streets at the break of dawn to start the clean-up process from the wreckage the night before. Something like 144 cars were burned and 7 buildings, one of which was a brand new 16 million dollar community center about to open to help the city, which is just so sad to see. By the days end the crowd had returned to the peaceful, purposeful protesting it started with before everything got out of hand – with legit chants and drums and even dancing. It was such a refreshing sight to see. The mayor had put a curfew in place and there was a bit of turmoil as 10 pm hit, but for the most part everyone went home and stayed there until the curfew lifted in the morning. Really glad to see people getting their heads on straight over this. They have every right to want answers, but answers can’t be found with violence. I’m so glad people are choosing the higher ground right now. I pray it remains this way.

 

Addiction: On YouTube & Toys

Can we just talk about how weird it is to suddenly be so addicted to YouTube? It’s not like it’s new to me or anything and yet, it’s become the first form of “social media” I check every day now. Weird. In the history of YouTube, I’d only ever tuned in to link to music videos or to view the occasional shared video via other social platforms. I had an account solely for the purpose of uploading an old home video to post elsewhere (and also because google basically makes you have an account to all their things once you sign up for one), but otherwise, I didn’t spend much time there.

 

I can’t say that anymore. I spend SO much time there now. Too much maybe.

 

I suppose the addiction was born when my friend Akoss started a BookTube Channel. It was just a baby addiction then, mostly toward unboxing videos of various nerd-themed monthly subscription services, but somewhere along the way, whenever I’d log in to check her latest video, I’d find myself watching several other “similar” videos and then somehow I was subscribed to a bunch of toy channels. Toy channels that feed my already existing toy collecting obsession in dangerous ways.

 

If you would like to fall down the toy channel rabbit hole with me, here are some of my favorites and why!

 

maxresdefault (1) Toy Box Collectibles – I love this channel partly because I love Cupquake (and Red) on other channels (such beautiful, cool nerds), but also because they (along with Hannah sometimes) get so excited about the products it’s impossible to not get excited about them too, even if they’re new to me (they’re totally responsible for so many of my latest addictions). I also like that they really do review a great variety of collectibles, not just the standard ones everyone else is doing and they’re honest about them. While they do tend to like a lot of the “cute” things they find, they don’t pretend to love it all when there are obvious flaws in the toys.

 

 

maxresdefault (2)Unboxing Rocks – This channel is especially awesome because of the Daddy/Daughter dynamic between Jay and Cyan. Sure, Mixx is great too, but there’s just something really special about dad’s getting excited over their daughters girly things. Also, Jay and Mixx are the kind of adult figures I imagine myself being if/when I have children – still into rock, tattoos, and toys (in other words: still being themselves and exposing their kid to a variety of awesomeness instead of solely kid-related coolness).

 

 

hqdefaultRadioJH – This channel frequently also has an awesome Daddy/Daughter dynamic, when Jason decides to do the videos with Audrey, but even when he’s not in front of the camera you know he’s behind it and I just love that he supports his 11 year old daughter’s desire to make a YouTube video every day (and I mean every day) and play with all her toys. Plus, Audrey is just too adorable for words with her funky colored hair and huge excitement over each new toy she reviews. She also sometimes does videos with her little brother, proving to be a fun, good big sister. This channel is another example of good parenting in my opinion.

 

 

1271128_555966037804558_1597091231_oChad Alan – Boys who love dolls FTW. Chad and Audrey are “internet siblings” (that’s a joke, btw) and so it was through her that I discovered him. I’m quite smitten with his politeness, the perfect organization of his collection, and how completely unashamed he is to love dolls the way he does. I’ve read in the comments how much he’s made younger boys unafraid of also liking dolls and I am just happy they have someone like Chad to look up to. Toys are toys; they shouldn’t only cater to one sex over the other.

 

 

maxresdefaultBeardy Nerd – This channel isn’t necessarily a toy channel, but does feature toys often in a different way than the other channels. The Beardy Nerd subscribes to a crazy amount of nerdy monthly subscription services and does individual unboxing reviews of each and then a combined review, rating them against each other. I find this to be super useful if you’ve been considering testing out other subscription services because he doesn’t just showcase what each box offers, he also breaks them down in value vs. the cost of the box too.

 

 

I follow a few other, non-toy related channels for music and laughs, but let’s be real, I spend the bulk of my time on YouTube getting addicted to new toys. And maybe you think addicted is a strong word, but just glance through all the toys I’ve acquired just this year so far in the slideshow below and see what I mean. I’m seriously out of control.

 

 

 

 

 

The Greatest Show On Earth

So, maybe the title is a slight exaggeration. Surely there are other great shows out there, but I don’t fault them for using the phrase. It really is one GREAT ass show.

 

If you haven’t already figured it out by now, I’m talking about the circus; Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey LEGENDS to be exact. And it was AMAZING! I don’t know when the last time I went was, I was probably so young that the memory is too fuzzy to recall, and so being there yesterday was almost like the first time. It didn’t matter that I am about to turn 33 and had no children in attendance with me, for one night I was 5 all over again and completely captivated. No, seriously, my mouth was dry from hanging open in amazement for so long. There was so much to see, my eyes could hardly keep up.

 

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We had excellent seats, which helped enhance the event, though I don’t think there were really any bad seats necessarily, just better ones. We had the better ones. The entire show is a burst of color, covered in glitters that catch the lights perfectly and draw you in. Actual performance aside, it was just visually stunning. The level of talent and bravery these performers have just blows my mind; they don’t miss a beat and thank God for that because several times I was equally amazed and horrified that I was about to watch someone meet certain death… like for instance the maniac motorcyclists in the video below. This video isn’t even the final count, we just wanted to watch the last round with our eyes instead of the phone lens, but they literally had 8 bikes in there! EIGHT! The program I bought says they ride at 60 mph, 4″ apart. That’s just insane.

 


Other bits of insanity involved the Big Cats. Now, I love cats, especially the big ones. In my mind, I think: Awww, wouldn’t it be so awesome to hug one of them! But I’m not stupid. Their mass and ferocity is terrifying and I know better. But Alexander Lacey doesn’t. He’s like, 11 big cats? YES, put me in a cage with them! This is where the line between brave and stupid blurs in my opinion. Thankfully, I didn’t have to witness the man be mawed to death, but I will say there were moments when I wasn’t sure. And while I loved seeing the Big Cats, I have to admit they didn’t seem happy.

 

When I was excitedly telling people I was going to the circus, I was met with a touch of nastiness like, “How can you support an event that is so cruel to animals?” There were actually even picketers there. I hadn’t even thought it that way. Only a small portion of the circus includes animals and all of them, with the exception of the big cats, seemed to enjoy their role in the show. Call it silly on my part (re: crazy imagination that believes animals have minds like us), but I think that some animals actually enjoy being used in something so spectacular. Dogs definitely enjoy learning tricks and getting treats for successfully pulling them off. No one hates on trainers who enter their talented dogs in Dog Shows, right? And horses seem to love to be ridden; they’re runners by nature so how much cooler is it for them to have a rider who gives their run a direction and purpose? I know the circus just recently announced their phase out plan for the elephants by 2018 and I understand and respect the decision to focus more on their preservation than on the money they help bring in, but I have to say that even the elephants looked like they were having a good time. The only animal I felt didn’t want to be there were the Big Cats and that did make me sad for them. However, the program I bought has a section on Alexander Lacey and his Big Cats and apparently his family has been raising them for decades, so these aren’t wild cats turned circus, they were born for this. Maybe this is just their usual demeanor? I don’t know. I suppose the cats will eventually go with the elephants and maybe they’d be happier? Or maybe that’d just put more of them in the wild for murder? Ugh, animal protection is such a tricky thing. :/

 

Back to the show, though… The drama kid from my past surfaced in me and I couldn’t help but also marvel at more than just the show itself, but all that I know has to go on behind the scenes for it to unfold so flawlessly. No one missed a beat. The lights, the music, the set changes, it just impresses me like you can’t imagine. How many hands go into making a show of this magnitude go on so successfully? I don’t know, but bravo to them. Every last one of them are stars in my opinion.

 

I’m sad to say we don’t have a ton of great pictures to remember the event by, but you can sort through the ones we did get in the slideshow below. I wasn’t sure they’d let me in with my good camera and phone cameras, while surprisingly decent these days, just don’t know what to do with all that light and movement. Still, I got a shirt and a program, and a hat with my cotton candy. Oh and a squeaker nose for good measure. 😉 It was awesome to take my mother-in-law (to be) and see her have such an awesome time herself, since lots of her days have been filled with sadness since Bobby passed. I’m still feeling the buzz of happiness today, that I had the whole ride home. So cool to get out and do something so fun for a change! If you’ve never seen the circus, I highly recommend it!

 

 

 

 

Tattoo Night

You may remember me making and failing to meet a resolution in 2014 to finally have some moxie and get another tattoo already? Well. I’ve finally done it. And not just one new tattoo, but two (that go together in my mind). The theme? “Take me to a world where it’s always fall and winter!”

 

My sister turned 30 yesterday and in preparing for how we’d celebrate last month, we decided we’d get tattoos the same way we had when she turned 18 (our first tattoos). By some sort of luck or fate, we ended up getting an appointment set up with not only the same artist who did our first tattoos, but on the exact same day 12 years later too.

 

Despite getting two in the same night, I’m already eager for more. I wonder if I can squeeze at least one more from my pocket before the years end? 😉

 

(Click through the slideshow below for pictures of the process and finished products!)