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Turning a Negative into a Positive

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Negatives seem to pour out of the woodwork onto us in our times of distress like termites in an unknowingly infested old house. You just went up to clear out the attic of your recently deceased Great Aunt Mildred, and the next thing you know, you’re being chased down the ladder by a demon horde of disgusting termites agitated by you poking around in places that haven’t been touched in several decades.

Positives, on the other hand, are harder to come by. They’re elusive like unicorns or puppies that don’t pee all over the carpet and chew off all the corners in your apartment. This might be manageable if negatives weren’t so much more devastating than positives are encouraging. However, a single negative thing can feel like a bomb going off in the middle of your world. While a single positive thing is like a butterfly alighting on your shoulder for a moment—awe-inspiring for a brief second, but gone before you can fully comprehend its specialness.

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I recently dealt with a deluge of negatives. Actually, 2016 has mostly been a monsoon of negatives if I think about it (but I try not to for fear of crying hysterically or wanting to burrow into the ground and disappear). So I spent a lot of time recently bemoaning my existence and my general awful luck, but of course, that doesn’t help anyone does it? So instead, I started to formulate ideas that would turn some of the super negatives I’d been experiencing into positives.

Now it’s hard to turn a negative into a positive. It’s not like in math where you learn that if you just add a large enough positive number to that negative number, you find yourself back in positive territory. You have to work hard for it and be creative. What I started thinking recently though, is that the best way to turn a negative into a positive is to simply turn it on its head. If someone’s beating you down, take the exact thing that they’re criticizing you about and invest the most time and energy into it. Make it better. Make it work. Make it so no one can say anything about you in that particular area. Or maybe just boost your confidence so much that you don’t care if they say anything one way or the other.

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I’m not talking about “Turn your bad situation into a lesson!” (Though I’ve done my fair share of that too.) Instead, I’m suggesting you turn it into motivation. Maybe there isn’t anything to be learned from it. It’s a sucky thing that happened to you so you can either cry about it or us it to propel you into the future. For me, it’s easy to get stuck in the past, replaying the same old negatives in my head like I can change them just by imagining them differently. But that’s not how life works. Instead, take the negatives that life gives you, turn them into motivation, and blast out a positive outlook for the future. Lemons to lemonade!

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I Want to Do All the Creative Things (But I Can’t Seem to Find the Time)

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Are you a creative person? Do butterflies rise up in your stomach at the idea of creating new things—whether it’s cartoons or fashion or stories or new recipes or computer programs? But do you struggle with finding the time and energy and maybe even chutzpah to actually create?

As a kid, I overflowed with creativity. It poured out of me into everything I did. I always had the most creative projects at school so my teachers loved me. I had a notebook for sketching, one for fashion ideas, and another for science experiments and inventions. I had multiple notebooks for all the stories bouncing around in my head—individual ones for stories I was going to turn into novels and another specifically for all my short story ideas. Even when I wasn’t putting my ideas down on paper or some kind of physical form, I was imagining them all the time. My story characters were my best friends. They kept me company when childhood friendships ended for petty reasons or helped me play out my feelings when I was afraid or confused.

Creative 2           But somewhere during all the “growing up” that life makes you do, I lost that affluence of creativity. My passion for being creative is still as strong as ever, but my ability to CREATE endlessly just isn’t. I tend to blame this issue a lot on time. “I just don’t have the time to be as creative as a I used to be.” But even that’s not really true. Yes, my life is busier and filled with all the “adult” things that aren’t so fun but are necessary to continue living and supporting myself in today’s world. But why should that stop the ideas? Even when I was busy as a child and teenager (and trust me, I was busy as a chronic overachiever), the ideas always bubbled up from the depths of my creative cavity. Even if I didn’t have the time to write them all down, they were still there.

But now, though that spring doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s run dry, it does feel much less prosperous. Like I’ve had to install a well and need to pump on it each day to keep what little juice is left flowing to the surface. It’s a sad state to find yourself when you’ve always been a prolifically creative person.

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And for you readers, you might be thinking, “But she is so creative! She writes a weekly blog and a weekly vlog on such crazy topics! I don’t do that!” And yes, I do those things, but that doesn’t make me more creative than you. Or like I’ve won some kind of creativity award. I’m still far behind what I’d like to be accomplishing creatively.

For example, I’d like to write a funny but gut-wrenching memoir about my struggle with perfectionism as a child. And start an artist shop on Threadless where I could sell product with iIMAGINEblank designs and some of my own artwork. I’d like to make more than one video a week on my YouTube channel. I’d like to learn how to code and design websites. I’d like to get better at graphic design. I’d like to make music videos regularly. I’d like to learn how to play an instrument and write and perform music with my boyfriend. I’d like to design outfits and fashion inspiration. I’d like to keep a sketch diary as well as a daily journal.

Creative 4           This just barely scratches the surface of what I’d love to be doing creatively. When you’re a kid, your life seems long and the universe seems huge but also conquerable. You’re not afraid of your creativity. You know you’ll have time. You know that it’s great in some way. But the older you get, the more self-conscious you become. You feel like if you’re going to be creative, you need to somehow contribute to the world. People need to like it, even love it for it to mean something. You become afraid of time. There never seems to be enough for you to fully realize your creative ideas, so instead of making the best of the time you have, you put it off. Saying, “I’ll do it when I have ‘more time,’” when the time is now. When there will never be more time than there is from this moment on.

But instead, we put down our utensils of creativity and bow our heads under the weight of adulthood and wait a little longer for the “right time” to start. But there is never a right time. There is only now.

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Why You Should Watch Stitchers

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In case you missed it, last summer “Stitchers” premiered on Freeform (formerly ABC Family) which was the station’s first procedural drama. It follows Kirsten Clark (Emma Ishta) who has the fictional condition of Temporal Dysplasia which causes her to be unable to sense the passing of time. This “disability” actually makes her a unique candidate for a covert government agency called the “Stitchers Program.” Team lead of the program, Maggie Baptiste (Salli Richardson), recruits Kirsten to the program where she is “stitched” into the minds of murdered victims in order to solve crimes with the help of a group of saavy science-oriented 20-somethings, Cameron (Kyle Harris), Linus (Ritesh Rajan), and Camille (Allison Scagliotti).

I was interested in watching this show originally because it looked like a cool science-fiction take on the crime procedural TV drama. So I tried it, and then I was hooked! It has all the fun science fiction and action-packed crime drama that you could want, but my favorite part of the series so far is the quirky cast of characters. So with Stitchers Season 2 premiering at 10 pm on Tuesday March 22nd, I felt like as a Stitchers fan, it was my duty to tell the world how awesome this show is so you can enjoy it too! So here are my Top 10 Reasons You Should Watch Stitchers!

#1: Linus and Camille

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They have the best chemistry! It’s quirky and weird, but the episode where Camille meets Linus’s parents because he had told them he had a girlfriend under stressful conditions (he thought he was going to die…) is a heart-melter!

#2: Cameron and Kirsten

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I feel like 99% of the people who love Stitchers love it because of the relationship between Cameron and Kirsten. I mean, we start out the entire series with a totally HOT kiss between the two that actually didn’t mean anything at all. But it was great foreshadowing to the potential they have as a couple. Also, the whole series is both about their relationship and not about it at all. It seems counterintuitive to say that, but it’s true! It’s really about their friendship and how Kirsten, as a girl who can’t sense time and therefore can’t truly experience emotion, comes to trust and care for her new coworker.

#3: Kirsten

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Kirsten is just a really interesting character. To be totally honest though, she seems like a bitch in the first episode. She’s so detached from the world, but you learn later in the season that’s because of her Temporal Dysplasia which makes her great at stitching but not so much at making friends. Yet somehow she still does find friends through the Stitchers program who genuinely care about her, and we grow to love her just like they do.

#4: Temporal Dysplasia

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This is one of those weird made up conditions that sounds just crazy enough to be real. Plus the Stitchers marketing team did an awesome job by actually creating a legitimate-looking (but fake) website explaining the condition and how scientists have studied it. I know from the comments that I wasn’t the first person to be fooled into thinking “well yeah, maybe that IS a real thing!”

#5: Cameron

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Cameron is a nerdy neuroscientist heartthrob! He’s smart, sassy, and the leader of the Stitchers team (essentially he “drives” the stitch). Plus he has some mysterious backstory (like that giant scar on his chest from open heart surgery as a child) which has to be explored more in the coming season. And then there’s the fact that he genuinely cares for Kirsten.   She might seem completely crazy at times and can’t properly express emotion, but he’s always got her back.

#6: The Mystery Behind the Stitchers Program

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There’s something crazy going on in the dusty and dark rafters of the Stitchers’ program. We know Kirsten is somehow in the center of it, but she doesn’t remember (thanks to her Temporal Dysplasia). Essentially, this show is about way more than seeing the memories of dead people to solve crimes.

#7: Kirsten’s messed up family history

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(SPOILER) She was the first person to be stitched. Except her father stitched her into her unconscious (but still alive) mother’s mind which ended up killing her mother and causing Kirsten’s Temporal Dysplasia and loss of her memories. Plus there’s the whole issue with her father and adopted father’s role in the creation of the Stitchers program.

#8: Maggie Baptiste

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I didn’t really like Maggie until the last few episodes of Season 1. She’s made out to be the bad guy who has all the answers about the Stitchers program but refuses to give them up even when people’s lives are in danger. But her character really starts to open up in singular scenes later in the season when she’s on the phone with still-unknown characters. You see that she’s got a soft underbelly beneath that spiky and scary government-issued armor.

#9: A Science-Fiction Take on Crime Procedural Dramas

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Everybody loves a good crime procedural! I mean, why else have shows like “Criminal Minds” and “Law & Order” and “NCIS” been popular for so many seasons? So why not throw just a little bit of science-fiction into the mix—like seeing dead people’s memories to solve crimes—to mix up that overdone format for a new and younger generation? I think it’s a recipe for awesome!

#10: Camille and Kirsten’s friendship

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Camille and Kirsten are roommates. Camille and Kirsten are opposites in every way. Camille is bubbly and full of life. Kirsten is reserved and emotionless. They are not friends when we start this show. In fact, they’re actually enemies since Camille claims that Kirsten has stolen her Caltech thesis work. But their opposite personalities develop over the season to be complimentary rather than opposing so that they have the kind of love-you-hate-you kind of friendship that most shows give to two male characters. It’s a fresh take on female friendship and makes me a little jealous of it!

Right now you can catch up on all 10 episodes from the first season on Freeform’s website and app for free! So binge it now before Season 2 premieres next week! And let me know how excited you are for the new season! The world needs to be watching Stitchers!

Check out the Season 2 Promo here:

And my video on Stitchers Season 1 here:

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Books to Read: Magic, Mayhem, and Dying Girls (February Book Round Up)

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Hello Readers! February is gone and I read another 5 books, so it’s time to share my latest treasures (and “eh, I’ll pass” feelings) with you! There was a lot of magical thinking going on in the books I read this month. Sometimes that meant magic was a well-respected element in the story. Other times, it was a magical imagination! Read on to find a new book that piques your interest!

Feb Books 1 - The Peculiar

“The Peculiar” by Stefan Bachmann
Book Type: Audiobook
Source: Library
Rating: 4 – Pretty Good

This book had beautiful world building! I was both enthralled by this fairy-infested world and appalled by it. Bartholomew is a sweet and compelling hero (at least after the first few chapters). His love for his sister, Hettie, propels much of the second half of this story, which makes him seem quite vulnerable and heroic. (He could have just walked away, couldn’t he?)

I listened to it as an audiobook, and I will say that while the narrator is incredibly talented in voice acting, the fairy voices creeped me out so much! It took a while to get used to them and actually hear the story rather than cringe every time a fairy spoke in what I’d like to term “creepy witch or troll under the bridge” voice. But as the story went on, their creepy voices kind of made more sense considering the developments in the narrative. It leaves you with a cliffhanger and I’m excited to find the next book at my local library! (But I think I’ll go with a hard copy this time to avoid the voices).

Feb Books 2 - The Night Circus

“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern
Book Type: eBook
Source: Library
Rating: 5 – Awesome!

I love this book so much! It captures the meaning of magic for me. I love all the characters and my only issue would be not getting to know more and follow them into eternity!

What really stood out for me in this book is how Morgenstern describes the new attractions which are both described in detail and left elusive so as to allow your imagination to fill in the details. Essentially there’s a magical quality to the writing when she writes about the circus itself. The rest of the story is compelling but nothing as awe-inspiring as the circus. (This is also consequently one of the issues dealt with in the narrative). However, this magical quality would make it difficult to capture in film form so while I’d love to see this book adapted for the screen, I wonder if it would take away from the magic and mystery that’s allowed to permeate the story to the limits of the reader’s visual imagination.

Feb Books 3 - Mr Penumbras

“Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan
Book Type: Audiobook
Source: Library
Rating: 5 – Awesome!

This book made me feel so many things!!!! I found it and added it to my “to-read list” after seeing a list on “Books You Might Like If You Loved Harry Potter” on Buzzfeed. However, the synopsis made it sound less than magical, which is why I held off so long in reading it. BUT OH MY GOSH THIS IS THE BEST BOOK!

This book is great because it’s full of quirky characters, vividly described settings, and references to technology that make it seem magical without being fantasy. An oxymoron, right? I don’t think it will be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, it blended my love of books and technology and creativity together in a way I hadn’t seen done before. PURE MAGIC GUYS!!! I was literally crying when it ended because I didn’t want to stop reading.

Please read this book!

Feb Books 4 - The 5th Wave

“The 5th Wave” by Rick Yancey
Book Type: Hard Copy
Source: Own
Rating: 3 – Okay

On the one hand, the alien “invasion” in this book is such a fresh and compelling idea. That’s what hooks you to read it. But I had a real problem with the main character, Cassie. I mean I like her at times, but I mostly have the problem with the way she was written. In comparison to the male characters whose perspectives we also explore (e.g. Evan, Sammy, Ben), she seems so much less serious and weak. She isn’t physically weak, that’s very obvious. But there’s a mental vulnerability that isn’t shown in the other characters and it feels like it’s just because she’s a girl. For this reason, “The 5th Wave” got the lowest rating I’ve given to any book I’ve read so far this year.

I’m intrigued enough to read the next book, but she’s just written so differently than the male characters, and it bothered me. It took away from the book as a whole. And I can’t imagine it would make a very compelling movie. Has anyone seen the movie? It was a big deal for a while, but then it seemed like it was silently released which makes me think it’s dud (which is disappointing).

Feb Books 5 - Me and Earl

“Me and Earl and Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews
Book Type: eBook
Source: Library
Rating: 5 – Awesome!

This book is different than I thought it was going to be. When I heard it called the “cynical version of The Fault in Our Stars,” I guess I didn’t really understand what that meant. Maybe I thought it would have the same kind of twisted sense of humor that TFiOS has but just ramped up a bit with a sweet and heart-warming message at the end. But believe me, it’s cynical. And it’s not a love story or a heart-warming story (as Greg Gaines, the “author” of the story will repeatedly tell you throughout). But even though I kept wondering when the ball would drop, I still loved it. I think the part I can really relate to is Gregg’s filmmaking. I can’t fully articulate what it is about the filmmaking aspect, but perhaps just because I’m a filmmaker too, I found myself reflected in Greg’s struggle to tell a story he didn’t want to tell and didn’t feel like he was qualified enough to tell anyway. He’s got some major self-esteem problems, and I totally get that. If nothing else, I really enjoyed the wide array of storytelling techniques used. I felt the struggle of an 18-year-old guy trying to put down on paper what happened to him and how he felt (or rather, didn’t feel) about it.

I actually watched the movie right after finishing the book, and although there were some significant changes to the adaptation and it’s overall cynicism, I love the movie just as much as the book. This is definitely a situation where there were changes made for the adaptation that actually enhanced the story for this different type of medium.

All in all, this was a great month for reading! With the exception of “The 5th Wave” these books are some of my favorite I’ve ever read! I won’t be forgetting “The Night Circus” or “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” anytime soon. This month’s books also made me think a lot about film adaptations and how easy or hard they would be for each and what kind of storytelling techniques would need to be used to capture the essence of each of these stories.

Does that make me a weirdo? Do you guys imagine the book as a movie while reading? Tell me down in the comments!

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Sexism, Misogyny, & Perspective

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A few months ago, I wrote a blog post on the experience I termed “eye rape” which is when someone looks at your body so lasciviously that you feel violated. Someone subsequently left the following comment on that blog post:

“The infantilization of women starts at home. There is no such thing as eye rape. Staring at strangers is rude, sure. But it’s a slippery slope from crying about “eye rape” to things like “air conditioning is sexist” and “retroactive removal of consent” which are both actual feminist platforms. This is why 82% of women refuse to identify as feminist. You live in the most privileged society on earth, and have never in your life experienced true misogyny- like being called a whore for leaving the house without a male escort. I have friends who have. Please, please find some perspective and grow up.”

And this comment bothered me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Because I like to consider myself the type of person who can look at a situation from many different perspectives. My life has afforded me that “privilege”—if you can call it that. It’s what makes me a great mediator during disagreements. So this idea that I needed to “find some perspective” and “grow up” felt wrong to me.

Instead, this question came to mind: Do you have to live in a country where women are overtly oppressed to experience sexism? Like, yes, I know that I have the “privilege” of being able to leave my house without a male escort and not being called a whore for it, but does that mean any oppressive experiences I might have as a white woman in the United States are somehow worth less? Why isn’t “true misogyny” based on the reality within which you’re living?

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In the U.S., women have freedoms that women from many other countries can only dream of. So if we compare American women to say, Iranian women, it creates a pretty stark contrast. We could go even further though and really show the disparity if we were to compare the most liberated American woman to the most culturally oppressed Iranian woman. They don’t even look like they’re from the same planet. So we should conclude that American women who complain about sexism or misogyny or “eye rape” are just crybabies who don’t understand the damage feminism is doing to the world.

But then let’s use that logic on something else. What if we compared a child living in poverty in America to a child living in poverty in say, Syria or somewhere in Africa. Again, a stark contrast. And that draws us to the conclusion that children living in poverty in America are just crybabies who….

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It doesn’t work, does it? Like, yes, they could be living in much worse conditions, but that doesn’t discount their personal experience of poverty. And so, I would argue that just because I don’t experience the same kind of misogyny in America as a Muslim woman in Iran would, doesn’t mean that I don’t experience sexism in a way that’s harmful in my own reality.

I know that a lot of feminist platforms sound insane. I read an article once on how public bathrooms are sexist which admittedly sounds crazy, but if you look at the author’s reasoning, it does kind of make sense. Public bathrooms are a luxury of the First World. But in the same way lack of access to pads and other feminine hygiene products can prevent girls from getting an education in Third World countries, lack of access to open restrooms can make it more difficult for women to ascend in the business or political world. Okay, but public restrooms aren’t my point. The point is that feminist arguments can seem silly when you first look at them. Like, of course, in comparison to an overtly oppressive culture, my experience of “eye rape” seems tame. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Or that it doesn’t mean anything to me or how I perceive the world or change my ability to trust strange men’s intentions. And some feminist arguments are just that—silly. But you can’t determine which ones are which without looking at each experience with some compassion and open-mindedness.

So no, I don’t think you have to live in an overtly misogynist culture in order to experience sexism. I believe sexism is real and comes in many forms and experiences. And I fortunately have the freedom to try to understand what misogyny I do experience through writing it out and hoping to find similarities with what other women experience.