Josh Sundquist is Getting Married! (And Other Thoughts on YouTuber Romance and “Ships”)

Jashley-1There have been a lot of YouTube relationship revelations this year—most of them having a very unhappy ending with all the break-ups and abuse accusations (both sexual and emotional). In fact, before 2014, I didn’t pay much attention to who the YouTubers I watched regularly dated. Usually I would notice simply because there would be a new guy or girl showing up in some of their videos. Or that boyfriend/girlfriend might have a YouTube channel of their own that I would checkout just to be nice and find I really liked their content. Most of the time I could at least respect them for what they were doing even if I wasn’t their target audience. But I realized this year that when your YouTuber is in a relationship, it affects you just as much as it does their content.

We love to “ship” people. Even though YouTubers (especially vloggers) are representing their personal life on camera, we can’t help but view it like we would our favorite prime time television drama. We all have our “ships” from our favorite TV shows (mine being Haleb and Spoby on “Pretty Little Liars,” Delena and Steroline on “The Vampire Diaries,” and most of all, Captain Swan from “Once Upon a Time.”) But those are all fictional characters, right? Writers create them for our enjoyment, so can’t we rightfully have an opinion about who they should love and be with?Jashley-2.1 Jashley-2.2But what about when it’s real life? When it’s real people? When you have incredibly easy access to comment on these people’s lives (e.g. YouTube comments and every social media outlet ever).

I was a big fan of the Internet band ALL CAPS featuring Luke Conard and Kristina Horner. I was also a big fan of their relationship as featured on YouTube. I thought it was cute. I thought it was romantic to be in a band with your significant other. I thought they were both incredibly talented people and it entertained me to watch and comment on their relationship through the Interwebs. Eventually, they broke up and it was quiet so I just kind of lost interest suspecting it happened before they ever made it obviously public. It was only in 2014 when all Hell broke loose on Tumblr and people started posting their stories about their relationships in this weird, interconnected love spiderweb of YouTubers making me realize I didn’t want to know THAT much about their lives.

Jashley-3I lost a little faith in YouTube and humanity after that incident. And I also started approaching YouTube relationships EXTREMELY cautiously. Like Tessa Violet and Rusty Clayton. I love Tessa. She is an absolute inspiration to me and I was immediately suspicious of any real, public romance going on because I had never been witness to one before. Fortunately, Rusty seems like “The Nicest Guy.” (Capitalized because in the dictionary beside that term would be a picture of him.)Jashley-4 Jashley-5What I want to celebrate today though is another YouTube relationship that’s moved to the next stage of life: ENGAGEMENT! That is, the engagement of Josh Sundquist and his dearest darling girlfriend (now fiancée!) Ashley Let’s-Keep-Her-Safe-From-The-Stalkers. I think I subliminally saw it coming when I saw pictures of them touring Italy and doing other fun things this summer. About the time Josh made his dating of Ashley public, I wasn’t watching his videos as regularly because (real) life is hard, and my internet sucks, but instead would do Josh Sundquist binges when I needed a pick-me-up. This also meant I might skip over a video or two if it seemed especially “relationship heavy.” Although I distinctly remember watching one video where Josh and Ashley reviewed “Divergent” in an alleyway and being quite taken with her as a person in the way she presented herself and in the way Josh obviously cared about her. I think another part of me though didn’t want to get too attached because of all the DRAMA that tends to ensue as any relationship runs its course.

But what I want to say is that Josh Sundquist and Ashley have restored my faith and hope in online “ships” just a little by their engagement. Mostly I think it comes from Josh just being an upstanding guy with good public relations. If there’s drama (and there’s always drama in any relationship), it doesn’t interfere with his channel’s purpose. Fortunately, his channel has always been a little about relationships (e.g. why he could never seem to get a girlfriend) so when a real relationship finally entered into his real life, it could naturally (if delicately) be introduced into his channel without completely overhauling his main purpose and alienating his fans. Instead, I think he’s got a band of subscribers rallied behind him, excited for this new step in his life.

Jashley-#8Jashley-6 Jashley-7So unlike my TV ships of Delena or Captain Swan who can never really get married or live a happily ever after, this YouTube ship of Josh and Ashley (Jashley? Ashosh?) does have a future and that makes it all the more exciting! And fortunately, they won’t have some desperate show writers trying to break them apart because they desperately need to infuse life into the series again. (Poor Callie and Arizona from “Grey’s Anatomy.”) They get to be in charge of their future and romance and happily ever after. As YouTube viewers, we’ll probably get to see some of it (e.g. MysterGuitarMan/Joe Penna and Sarah Evershed Penna as they get engagement, married, and have a baby!) But even if we don’t (that is, Josh and Ashley choose not to share it with us which is perfectly in their right to do), what little glimpses we do get will be all the more sweet.

Movie Trailer Proposal:

Wedding Day:

Pregnancy Timelapse:

To Josh: Thank you for being an awesome and insightful YouTuber. I think you can definitely say you “got a girlfriend” now.

To Ashley: Congratulations! I have to wonder if you feel like you’re living a fairytale. Because that’s what it looks like from here. And it makes me so happy for you!

To the YouTube Community: Maybe we should take a lesson from Jashley?

Watch the whole proposal story here!


Never Trust a Girl Whose Name Starts With ‘A’


“Gone Girl” directed by David Fincher and starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike has recently been sweeping the nation as the latest psychological thriller phenomenon at the box office. I haven’t read the book though I did go see and thoroughly enjoy the movie (which admittedly, is not something I normally do as I prefer to have read the book before watching a film adaptation of a novel). In this case though, the trailers got my interest piqued enough that I decided to go with the film buzz and see it opening weekend. It was different than I expected it to be. I assumed it was going to be a cut and dry murder case with some twists and turns figuring out the identity of the real killer. That’s not exactly how that movie worked out, but it was certainly filled with all the twists and turns I could want! What really struck me though is how familiar the plot started to seem. Not in a “this has been way overdone in movies before,” but rather a “why does this strangely unique plot seem familiar when it shouldn’t?”

But it does!

And that’s thanks to Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family.

Gone-Girl-2Again, I haven’t read the Sara Shepard book series, but I’ve been fascinated by the television show since it first came on in the summer of 2010. And since I’ve been rather religiously following the show to figure out who “A” is, I know the mythology really well which is when I realized that in watching “Gone Girl” I was actually watching the grown-up version of “Pretty Little Liars.”

Girls with the name “A” like to “disappear” and play games.

Gone-Girl-3The “girl” that disappears in “Gone Girl” is named Amy Dunne. The girl that disappears in “Pretty Little Liars” is named Alison DiLaurentis. (Coincidence?) In “Pretty Little Liars” after Alison disappears, her high school friends are terrorized by an all-knowing phantom-like character distinguished as “-A” who sends them texts, notes, and haunting “gifts” that threaten to reveal their deepest secrets. Similarly, Nick Dunne, Amy’s husband is left with an incriminating anniversary scavenger hunt that playfully teases Nick into the realization that he’s being framed for her “murder.” Both of these “A” girls appear to love playing games with their “loved” ones like a cat hunting mice.

Girls with the name “A” have a sick obsession with death.

Gone-Girl-4For some reason, death (or rather faked death) is the only answer for these “A” girls’ life problems. Rather than facing their demons and therefore resolving their problems, death seems like a better option. When is death ever a better option? (Short answer: NEVER.) Both girls fake their death after “disappearing.” Both girls murder (or at least are an accomplice in the murder of) another person to help continue their charade.

Girls with the name “A” like to implicate others in their murder.

Gone-Girl-5Amy sends Nick on a scavenger hunt for all the “clues” she’s left to frame him for her murder. Alison uses other’s secrets to blackmail them into doing her bidding. They both want other people to suffer for wrongs they feel have been done to them and the obvious means by which to do this is framing people for murder. Obviously.

Girls with the name “A” seem to attract innocent bystanders into their game like moths to a flame.

Gone-Girl-6The unfortunate part (for law enforcement) of being an “A” girl is that you might have sociopathic tendencies, but you’re an extremely enticing person. You make people want to be your friend easily. You make them bow down and worship you even if they don’t quite understand why they’re doing it.

This was the case for Amy and her high school “puppy lover”, Desi Collings, who she uses to first, save her financially when she has all her money stolen, and then, as her supposed “kidnapper” because of his strange history of stalking. Similarly, Alison attracts the four girls in Pretty Little Liars—Spencer, Emily, Aria, and Hanna—as well as many other characters in Rosewood, PA to her web of secrets, lies, and deceit so that she can use them to further her charade.

Interestingly, Amy uses Desi in a similar way that Alison has used Emily in the past. Both Desi and Emily are loyal, unrequited lovers who so desperately want the affection of their “A” girl that they will betray their other friends and the police in order to make her happy. Desi’s devotion to Amy ended in a spectacularly gory bloodbath and smearing of his good name so I hope that Emily can wise up before something similar happens to her.

Girls with the name “A” convince you not to go to the police.

Gone-Girl-7What fascinates me the most about those who are under the thumb of an “A” girl is that they don’t go to the police. Why doesn’t anyone think that telling the WHOLE truth to the police is a good idea? Why is honesty punished by the justice system just because the truth isn’t the most “obvious” answer and is therefore assumed a lie by the justice department? *face palm* It bothers me so much that both “A” girls have such a firm hold on their “playthings” (aka friends and/or husband) that they can even make up nonsensical stories and rather than outing them to the police when they have the chance, they lie for them too! It’s a sick and twisted world they’re living in.

Girls with the name “A” like to start pregnancy rumors.

Gone-Girl-10Amy uses a fake pregnancy to make her disappearance seem even more suspicious and cast the shadow of guilt onto her husband Nick who supposedly “didn’t want children.” Whether Alison was ever actually pregnant or not (that is, if she just thought she was pregnant and wasn’t or she made up the entire pregnancy rumor to manipulate people or she was pregnant and got an abortion or had a miscarriage), her supposed “pregnant possibility” again made her disappearance and “murder” seem more plausible especially with her fascination with older men. Both “A” girls use being pregnant as a way to shift blame and scrutiny on others.

Girls with the name “A” like to keep a journal and embellish on their lives.

Gone-Girl-8Alison kept a journal about her extravagant escapades and lies that she constructed which is how Spencer, Aria, Hanna, and Emily are eventually able to track her down. Similarly, Amy leaves a journal meant to incriminate her husband filled with some true and some fanaticized stories about her marriage. We tend to want to believe a person’s journal as truth because clearly they’re writing from the heart so it wouldn’t be a lie, right? Not if you’re an “A” girl. No, you write a journal to further the truth you tell yourself even when reality speaks to the opposite. There is a common thread of truth underlying the stories somewhere, but they’re twisted and bent to create an alternate reality for an “A” girl’s life and alibi.

Conclusion: Girls with the name “A” are apparently psychos.

Gone-Girl-9My apologies to any girls with a name that starts with “A,” but apparently you’re CRAZY. By the end of “Gone Girl,” I came to the conclusion that I now know the future of “Pretty Little Liars.” Alison DiLaurentis will grow up and change her name to Amy Elliot and move to New York where she will hire an unassuming couple to pose as her parents (because her real ones are dead, because everyone on PLL dies, duh). She’ll then fall in “love” and marry clever, if average Missouri man, Nick Dunne who she’ll eventually get tired of and decide to get back to her old ways of “disappearing” and framing other people for her (fake) murder. Spencer, Aria, Hanna, and Emily won’t be able to warn Nick this time because they’ll all either be in a padded cell in Radley or dead. (Mostly likely from an early onset heart condition caused by too much “A” stress.)

Basically, “Gone Girl” is just the grown-up version of “Pretty Little Liars” with a lot more gore. And the same conclusion can be drawn: these “A” girls are sick and twisted, but they draw people into their webs like a murderous black widow. Also, it never ends well for the one caught in the web.



Selfish Girls Shouldn’t Be Heroes (AKA Why Elena Doesn’t Deserve Damon)

Selfish-Elena-1            In Episode 602 of “The Vampire Diaries” titled “Yellow Ledbetter,” having finally admitted to herself that her boyfriend, Damon Salvatore, is dead (but mostly not wanting to be a witch drug-addict anymore), Elena Gilbert decides to reenact “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and erase her relationship with Damon from her memory because she’s come to the conclusion that this is her best option for moving on.

If only we could all just erase our hurts from our memories with the help of an Original Vampire WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER than to erase an immature 19 year olds’ memories because they asked them nicely and seem distressed.   Wouldn’t that make our lives so much better?


While the prospect of erasing our hurtful memories after we have experienced loss does seem intriguing because no one wants to have to deal with the emotional baggage all that sorrow brings, it just isn’t realistic to exist that way. Even if we did have memory-erasing scientific equipment or vampire compulsion, would you really want to wipe away years of your life? Isn’t every life experience important? Especially the ones that cause us so much pain when they no longer work out? Didn’t we learn something from them?

Selfish-Elena-2            Essentially, I’m pretty disappointed in the character of Elena. It’s Season 6. She’s a college sophomore. She’s had two great loves and had pretty much everyone she’s cared about die at one point or another, and yet when her boyfriend (her “greatest love,” if you will) dies (although we know he’s not exactly “gone”), she resorts to erasing him from her memory because that’s the only way she can think of coping with this particular loss. And this is selfish. It is cowardly. It is immature. It is wrong. If she loves him so deeply, doesn’t he deserve to be grieved and not forgotten? Because she didn’t just wipe her memory of him, she reverted her memory back to what she initially thought of him as—a monster with no remorse. One of the highlights of “The Vampire Diaries” is the growth Damon’s character has undergone through the last five seasons, and I consider it an insult that she would rather just forget him.

Sometimes I wonder if Julie Plec’s and Ian Somerhalder’s intention for Damon Salvatore is to create a character that is so perfectly imperfect and loveable that even the characters on the show don’t deserve him and that it’s some kind of sick torture for the viewers to pine after him, convinced that you could treat him better than Elena. Perhaps…

Selfish-Elena-3            My real issue though lies in Elena. I like strong female characters. I like character growth (especially female character growth). I like to see people overcome their odds, and trust me, Elena has had the odds stacked against her. If there was ever any fictional character I DIDN’T want to be (even if it got me a sexy vampire boyfriend named Damon Salvatore), it would be Elena Gilbert because she’s pretty much the unluckiest girl on the planet with a side of Fate out to get her. But what puzzles me as a viewer is that even when she comes through all these hardships (her parents dying, her aunt dying, her teacher/pseudo-father dying, her biological parents dying, her brother dying, etc), when she faces a new struggle she reacts in the same way—run and hide—which has been proven over and over again as the WORST strategy.

I mean, she asked to have her humanity turned off after Jeremy died, and she BURNED DOWN HER OWN HOUSE. Yeah…that was definitely the best idea.

What I’d like to see is an Elena that doesn’t run and hide from her pain. First, she drugged herself so she could ignore the pain and then when she realized the drugs were a problem rather than dealing with her addiction and grief head on, she asks for her memory to be erased. This is clearly a girl who has little self-control, and she’s supposed to be our hero! I mean, every hero has his or her weaknesses, but Elena isn’t even looking too good overall.

If you want to look at a strong female character in “The Vampire Diaries,” you’ll have to look at Caroline Forbes. Over the last five seasons, she went from a prissy, envious teacher’s pet to an independent woman who never stops fighting for her loved ones. She also went from my most loathed character to my absolute favorite character on the show. She isn’t perfect, she’s still changing and growing as a character, but she’s not stuck on her original hang-ups like Elena.

I’m a disappointed in you Julie Plec, “The Vampire Diaries,” and Elena. Give us a little more character growth and female strength to work with here!



The Ebola Epidemic and the Plight of a Germaphobe


I can remember in middle school getting the stomach virus and throwing up so much that I thought my insides had turned out. After that traumatizing experience I decided I no longer wanted to throw up. EVER. Which meant I could no longer get sick. EVER. Even if it was a sickness that didn’t even have a symptom of vomiting. This meant I became deathly afraid of germs. To the point that I needed to carry around hand sanitizer with me everywhere, if anyone touched or breathed on my food I wouldn’t and couldn’t eat it (which led to a significant amount of lunch bullying), and if anyone was sick at school or in my family I would have full-on panic attacks to point that I felt nauseous even though I wasn’t sick.


Admittedly, looking back, it was a horrible way to live, and I wish I could go back to tell my eleven year old self that a little vomiting wouldn’t kill me, and I would probably not die from not getting that 33rd hand wash in for the day. And I definitely shouldn’t let anyone bully me into giving up my lunch because someone breathed on it.

I was a hardcore germaphobe. I went to counseling for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and over the years I’ve reached a more normal level of germ-wariness and not all out panic. I was also a bit of a hypochondriac in that any time I felt the least bit ill I assumed the worst. Like I always thought I had cancer. Or MERSA. Or Swine Flu. It was not a fun way to live, I must say.

ebola3Fortunately, I’m not so extreme anymore; however, I still feel that chill in my spine whenever illness is brought up. Especially widespread illness.

I love reading dystopian novels, but a lot of the time the majority of the human race was wiped out in the book by some kind of biologic virus. One of my favorite series that does this is Julie Kagawa’s Blood of Eden Trilogy in which the Red Lung Virus pretty much killed everyone except for the few humans the vampires could save and use for food in their elite vampire cities.

ebola4Everyone else turned into “Rabids” or zombie-like vampires who just rip into anything that gets in their way. Stories like that both intrigue and bother me because if you take away the vampire part, a virus that could spread across the globe quickly and lethally, doesn’t seem all that far fetched. I mean, there was the Black Plague. And the various animal diseases like Bird Flu, Swine Flu, and Mad Cow Disease. They all give me the willies!

And then there’s the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

ebola5As soon as it was even barely being reported red flags went off in my brain. If I had been in charge of the universe I would have stopped all outgoing flights from Africa. (No offense Africans, I’d do the same thing on any continent).

And then people started dying, and it really became real. Ebola is a problem. Ebola needs to be stopped. People need to be educated about it—how it spreads, how to fight it, what hope is out there.

ebola6Then the American public finally decided to listen to the news and THEY FREAKED SLAM OUT which really causes more harm than good. Essentially they were having the kind of reaction that eleven-year-old Kaitlyn would have had. My brother currently thinks he should go create a bunker to hide from the Ebola-created zombie apocalypse. (He’s not overdramatic, is he?)

ebola7So then you have all these different sources telling you DON’T FREAK OUT, Ebola is under control or FREAKING OUT IS NECESSARY because we’re all going to die. People start blaming one another. They start insulting different nationalities and calling them stupid. The healthcare system reveals its holes when a Nigerian man who just got back from Nigeria walks into a Texas hospital and tells them he doesn’t feel well and they SEND HIM HOME like it’s nothing but a common cold.

ebola8Ebola is scary. I don’t want an epidemic in America. I don’t want a pandemic in Africa, but there already is one. And neither FREAKING OUT like eleven-year-old, germaphobe Kaitlyn nor ignoring the problem and pretending it won’t affect America is going to stop Ebola from spreading. There has to be a happy medium. Finding that balance between panic and ignorance is what my journey from OCD as a preteen to today has been about. Yes, I still carry around hand sanitizer. But no, I won’t not eat my food because someone breathed on it. Yes, I still detest vomiting. But no, I don’t go into a panic attack if I start feeling a little sick. That balance is the key, and I hope that the American public, media, and government will find that soon as they prepare to deal with the very real health problem of Ebola.



Novel Writing: Month 9, Chapter 9 – Does Having An Outline Help?


BAM!!! Another month done!

If you remember from last month’s blog post, my goal for September was to write a little in my novel every day. And now, you’re probably wondering if I accomplished this goal? Well…

Yes! And…no.

I started off really well. September 1st was Labor Day and filled with family fun so it was ten at night and my bed time before I had a moment to really sit down and write. And at that point I realized I didn’t even have my laptop at home so what was I to do? Problem-solving Kaitlyn decided to write the first few paragraphs in Notes on my iPhone. Not the most convenient means of writing a novel, but if J.K. Rowling can write Harry Potter on napkins on a train then I can write my novel on my iPhone before bed.

Fortunately, the next week or so of writing was on my computer and not on my iPhone so it went a little more smoothly, and I was able to write pages rather than just paragraphs.   However, I noticed that each day it felt more like I was writing to feel like I had accomplished my goal rather than to get through a certain portion of my chapter outline.

Normally, before I start writing a chapter I take the time to make a bullet pointed outline of the plot to help keep me organized and on task (plot-wise) throughout the month. Sometimes I’m extremely specific, writing paragraphs that more or less are translated verbatim into the final document during the month. Other times I’m much more vague and leave myself basic notes about what kinds of action or discussions I want to have in the chapter but without true guidance as to how I’m going to accomplish that quite yet. These outlines are very important to me. Usually they’re longer than what I actually find I can write in a month because I find that one particular section needed more fleshing out in the novel than when I initially conceived the idea in the outline. That’s when I break the outline in half or cut off the last quarter to use in the next chapter. When I have done that, I have found it actually helps me keep a continuation from chapter to chapter.

This particular month of “writing every day” though, I found that my outline was much slower going even though I was writing every day. In previous months my writing goals would be to get through a certain section of my outline every time I wrote whereas this time it became about just the act of writing every day. I think because of this I have some more creatively inspired sections in this chapter, but it definitely caused a backlog in my writing queue.

I noticed this disconcerting phenomenon about halfway through the month as I realized I still wasn’t halfway through my outline even though I had been writing every day. And then the worst thing for productivity happened—I went on vacation.


I had these grand plans of writing every day while at the beach, and how I would be more focused and creative because I wouldn’t have the stresses of work hanging over my head, and that I would be stuck in the car for six hours there and back so if nothing else surely I would be able to write then! Well, that didn’t happen.

I slept for most of the traveling. It’s not really that surprising. I was EXHAUSTED. I definitely needed the sleep. And then once I was at the beach, who wants to pull out their laptop and start writing? Even if it’s fun writing? Who even wants to write on their iPhone using that tiny little keyboard? The free time I did have was when I was out lounging by the ocean, but I couldn’t bring my computer out there! It would be ruined by sand and salt and ocean water. Eugh!


So the week of my vacation was a bust. But I thought, “Well I still have a week and a half left after I get back! I can finish it then!” Fortunately, I did. But again, I had to cut the chapter outline at about the two-thirds mark which in this particular case actually made sense because I realized I was trying to stuff WAY too much information and action into one chapter. Breaking it up into two chapters made so much more sense. However, if I had perhaps kept my original pace and not gotten distracted by “writing words” rather than “writing content,” I probably would have gotten through a chapter and half at least.


I would say this month is still a success though. I really want to write every day in October even though a conference for work will make writing every day during the first five days of October pretty difficult. But maybe I should just look at it as a challenge. Let’s write every day even though I’ll probably be working twenty hour days and doing significant amounts of air travel and be exhausted in my spare time!

On a plot note, I’m excited about where I am getting to in my novel now. While I keep having ideas about things I’d like to go back and change and add in order to make the novel better, the part of the novel I’m starting to write now really gets into some adventure so I want to make it a worthwhile ride for myself and my potential readers. I think that’s part of why it’s more difficult to write now than it was before. This part of the novel really takes some forethought and finesse. I can’t just wait until the last week of the month and slap something together. For this reason, I think deciding to make writing every day a goal will benefit me in the coming months.