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Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life // A Non-Spoiler Review

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Are you on the fence about watching the Gilmore Girls Revival? Looking for a review that will ease your mind on which way to go without spoiling the whole experience for you?  Then you’ve come to right place!  I made a SPOILER-heavy review on my YouTube channel which you can watch at the end of this blog post, but I thought I’d create a non-spoiler-y review for those looking for such!

Winter

The first episode of the revival is a love letter to Gilmore Girls fans in my opinion. It’s got all the beautiful nostalgic moments, characters, and scenes you could ask for. You quickly get back into the witty banter and see what all your favorite characters have been doing these last few years. (And in the case of the town of Stars Hollow, it somehow seems to have stayed exactly the same besides the addition of a little more technology).  It also addresses Richard’s death pretty early on and how the three Gilmore women are processing it. And I don’t think it’s too spoiler-y to say that his absence is what propels them forward into many of the events seen in the revival.  And it’s this story arc that I found the most true to the Gilmore Girls legacy and also moving and enjoyable.

The only real detriment to this episode is that we find Lorelei in the place where she seems to have backtracked on some of the growth and maturity we saw in the original series. It works for the arc as a whole and is resolved by the end, but for me, it felt somewhat disappointing to her character. I really had expected her to be a little more grown up 8/9 years after the events of the original series.

Spring

Where Winter is mostly fun and nostalgic, Spring starts to introduce the conflicts we know are going to influence the revival’s arc as a whole. For me, Spring was made especially fun because of Paris and her high-school flashbacks and insecurities. I’ve always wondered if I was the only one who felt them! But fear not! Even the amazing and bull-headed Paris Geller isn’t immune to the pull of horrific high school memories!

Summer

Maybe I missed something or I’m just not remembering correctly, but I don’t remember there being a Stars Hollow Community Pool. Nevertheless, there is one now! So don’t let it bother you too much like it did me. This is the only episode I didn’t really like and it was mostly because there’s a GIANT musical in the middle. Not just one scene with half a song to suggest at the idea of a musical, but AN ENTIRE MUSICAL. I’m telling you this now and possibly kind of spoiling it for you, because it’s just so weird and drawn-out and I’ve seen many people complaining about it. I want you to be prepared. I do still think it’s worth watching though, and this episode ends on the classic Gilmore Girls dramatic cliffhanger so power through 15 minutes of slightly disturbing musical for ending drama!

Fall

Where I was not a big fan of Summer, I was very pleased with Fall on the whole. It’s different in many ways than the traditional Gilmore Girls episode, but I feel like by the end of the revival arc, the places that each character is at and the resulting use of setting and cinematography fit with each one.  It also ties things up in a nice happy bow, except for those last four words. But you’ll have to watch to find those out!

Other Thoughts and Issues You Might Be Wondering About

Sookie’s absence was sorely felt, but I think it worked well for the journey that Lorelei goes on. She’s missing pieces of herself in several different places and she has to find a way to put herself back together for her future success. So though I missed Sookie’s presence, I didn’t feel like it was a detriment to the story as whole.

Watch, Skip, or Wait?

If you were a long-time Gilmore Girls fan, I would definitely say watch!  It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s full of nostalgia, and does address some issues left unresolved in the original series.  If you’re only vaguely aware of the Gilmore Girls world, I will warn you that this isn’t your average Netflix release. It’s not truly meant to be accessible by anyone. You do need a decent understanding of the original storyline. I’d say that if you watched or read a recap of the original series and are interested in seeing the revival, go for it!  I can’t imagine you’ll experience the nostalgia that my mom and I did while watching, but I think it’ll still be an enjoyable experience.

And is there any reason to wait on watching it or skip it all together? If you’re super invested in the characters as you knew them in 2008, I might suggest skipping it. You have to understand that we’re revisiting the town and story several years later and there are obviously going to be changes. We are also now adding to the story and it’s possible there will be additions that you don’t like, depending on your interpretation of the characters and the world. So basically, skip it if you’re worried your world will be shattered by tiniest change in character development!  Good luck! Have fun! And let me know what you think!

And don’t forget about my video review!

A Spoiler-Heavy Review (But a Great Place for Support After You’ve Watched The Revival!)

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Fake News, Censorship, and Propaganda

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I’ve been thinking a lot about this outbreak of “fake news” running rampant on social media and goaded on by the bloodbath that was the 2016 election cycle and what it means for censorship as well as its influence on the seemingly ever-widening divide between liberal and conservative viewpoints. I have the unique place of not really being in a social media bubble. I grew up in a rural and very conservative place and lived there again for the last three and half years. But I also went to college at a liberal arts school and have cultivated a pretty diverse online friend group through YouTube. So Facebook has been a literal hell over the last year because I have the ultra conservative posts right next to the ultra liberal posts, and I’ve always considered myself pretty moderate–if nothing else just because I like to ask questions of both sides before making a decision. But let’s just say I’ve seen the vitriol that both sides have been throwing.

And I can’t even begin to tell you how many “news stories” I clicked on because of the inflammatory or interesting headline only to find myself halfway through and looking for the website name because it seems so far out of left (or right!) field. At first, I would just roll my eyes and click out of the tab because “Oh Crazy Uncle Joe Bob is posting nonsense again because he doesn’t realize what satire is.  But then slowly but surely, my entire news feed began to fill up with similar kinds of garbage from both conservative and liberal friends and “real” news stories blended right in because honestly, this whole election was insane. Donald Trump’s campaign, especially early on, was bolstered by these inflammatory headlines which were mostly true because he said inflammatory things.  So later in the election cycle, we were already preconditioned to these kinds of outrageous statements so the real and fake clickbait blended together.

Now we recognize that there’s been an influx of fake news, and whether it influenced the U.S. presidential election is really neither here nor there at this point, but it does raise questions about censorship. Because this fake news feels invasive and overwhelming. It’s made the Internet–a primary source of information for the majority of people today–feel sinister and unsafe (well…more than it usually does). You always hated being that poor sucker who didn’t realize the Onion wasn’t an actual news source and shared an article like it was real.  And now just going on Facebook feels that way. What’s truth? What’s a lie? What’s heavily biased opinion?

How do we stop the misinformation? On the one hand, there’s freedom of information and speech so we shouldn’t put regulations on news, right? Then it becomes censorship and the people who will be hurt the most are your average citizens and honest, hard-working news organizations.  You don’t want state-sponsored propaganda, right? How do you censor the fake news without vastly limiting the freedom of all news organizations and therefore create a propaganda funnel?

But if we can’t do anything to directly staunch the flow of fake news, we then rely on people to take the responsibly of vetting their own news sources.  And as a pretty critical reader myself, even I’ve gotten all the way through an article before thinking to look at the website name or the suggested ads for clues as to the site’s authenticity. Also, it’s pretty obvious from even mainstream news outlets like CNN, FOX, and MSNBC that most people fall into one bias or another. I’m sure very few people watch all three of those stations regularly (except for my dad, my dad likes to “know what the other side is saying” which is honestly, a pretty good tactic).  We want to hear or read news with a bias we agree with. That makes it easier to digest and move on.  It’s easier to call anyone who has a different bias than you “libtards” or “ignorant conservatives” than to actually sit down and say “Hey! I wonder why this person thinks this way? I wonder what they’re seeing and reading and hearing that’s influencing them that I’m not?”

I don’t want propaganda. I don’t want censorship. But I also don’t want fake news. Or so heavily biased “news” that it’s pretty much just opinion pieces. Biased entertainment–that’s enjoyable, but I hope that no one watching The Daily Show or Last Week Tonight with John Oliver thinks that actually qualifies as news.

But then we also live in a world where people (and mostly my generation) trusts comedians more than news anchors. They may be biased but at least they’re honest about it.

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The Time a Teacher Told Me My Art Was Too “Crafty”

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While in high school, I was so much of an overachiever that I couldn’t fit all my passions into my class schedule. So my love for art was relegated to an after school activity in a small “Gifted Arts” program. It was two hours after school once or twice a week with an art teacher where we worked on various projects and explored new styles since the handful of us in the class were talented but not taking an art class as part of our course load.  During my sophomore year I had a wonderful teacher,  Mr. Pitsenbarger, who was hands-on and taught me creative skills I still employ today when brainstorming a project. But my freshmen year teacher almost made me quit art.

I think the first problem stemmed from her way of structuring the program.  Where Mr. Pitsenbarger had specific units and weekly projects with set goals, this teacher allowed us to develop our own large-scale projects and then work on them during program time with her help and critique.  While this seems awesome in theory (Woo! No assignments! No rules!), it really made the entire experience a free-for-all where I didn’t really learn much in terms of art theory or skills or practice. She helped me do a little research when I decided to work three-dimensionally and encouraged me in certain directions, but really what ended up happening was me feeling pressured to make the piece a certain way (that is, her way) and so I lost the original inspiration I had for creating it. Which resulted in a hideous fabric covered box and a failed attempt at starching and wiring fabric into a sculpture.

I remember getting extremely frustrated with it because it had mutated out of my original idea to a point where I barely even recognized it and the teacher seemed irritated with me that I had taken on such an intensive project when it wasn’t even something I had wanted!

But the thing that struck a chord with me the most and what honestly put me off from making any art for several years was that she told me all my ideas were too “crafty.”

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In a social media-infused world where “craftiness” is EVERYWHERE from artfully presented recipes to Dollar Store Hacks to holiday decoration tutorials, it seems weird that being told you’re “crafty” would come off as insult.  Now being “crafty” is a pretty lusted after asset especially when you can show off your craftiness to your social media following daily.  But at the time (and with the implication of being “too crafty”), it decimated my artistic confidence.  Instead of embracing my artistic style (which involved collage, mixed media, and a fair amount of fabric) and helping me develop it even if it didn’t fit the “traditional” style of art she was used to teaching, she shot me down and boxed me into some preconceived notions of what art should be. Which ultimately lead me to resent her and resent traditional forms of art (besides my time with Mr. Pitsenbarger I haven’t developed any traditional art skills like sketching or painting in class format since then).

So now, years later, with little attention paid to my traditional art skills (which I deeply regret), I’ve come to realize that my craftiness is not a detriment to my art. While the art and creative projects I enjoy doing may never hang in the Louvre or the Met, they bring me joy.  And for me, art is about the emotion–whether it’s joy or sorrow, empathy or anger.

I’m not painting grand landscapes on life size canvases, but I am making DIY costumes for cosplay like Judy Hopps for this past Halloween. And participating in the Creative Sprint where many times the goal is to make something out of nontraditional elements. I also started collecting magazines because I feel like getting back into collage and seeing what my life and creative experience since then will help me create.

I’ve also been super inspired by one of my fellow NextUp winners Cinnamon–known as the Art Sherpa on YouTube–to start painting again. I’ve been watching so many of her viewers post pictures of what they created based on her tutorials and pieces they painted because of the skills and confidence Cinnamon taught them. I love the positive and supportive community she’s created! I have a feeling if she’d been my art teacher she wouldn’t have told me I was too crafty!

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It’s Cinnamon aka The Art Sherpa teaching you how to paint!

But I also don’t want you to think that I hate that art teacher or that I want to shame her for her comment. While at the time, I was angry and hurt by what she’d said about my art and my art process, I know that most likely she didn’t mean to hurt me. She was doing the best she could in an after school art program for a rural public school system where she probably wasn’t getting paid for the extra work. It’s not like it was easy for her or that she was trying to be a self-righteous judge lording over us.

No, she was trying to help me the best way she knew how. It just so happened that it resulted in an unfortunate opinion about my work that stuck with me (because I was a very sensitive child, honestly).  But I hope that you know, that art shouldn’t ever be too crafty. Even straight-up crafts are art in their own way!  It all stems from the creativity and passion you infuse it with.

So go out and get on with your creative and crafty self! Don’t let someone shut you down because your art is different. I mean, learn the theory and basic skills if they’re teaching it to you, but also develop your own style even if it’s something your teacher (or friends or parents, et al.) haven’t seen before.  Let your art be as unique as you!

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Election Anxiety

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I’m pretty numb today. After months of slowly building anxiety–chest-tightening, tears to your eyes, can’t breathe kind of anxiety–I held this hope that it would finally be okay to breath out again. I even had a vlog planned for next Tuesday tentatively titled “Thank Goodness That’s Over,” but there was always the nagging fear in the back of my mind: But what if he wins? But it was better not to think that way because the anxiety was already nearly crushing.

But this morning, I had to wake up and deal with that reality. And it’s left me numb with few words to really say. I’ve read a lot of reactions today. I’ve connected with the rage and the sorrow and the despair. I’ve been incredulous at the tone-deafness of others. I’ve cried at the ones offering hope and support. I don’t feel the need to shout and scream and curse and demean those who feel this was 100% the right decision. I’ve very much understood the moral greyness of this entire election.  No candidate really seemed “the best” for America.  But the things that Donald Trump has said and promises to do, create in me a level of fear and anxiety to which Hillary’s potential didn’t come close.

What I really hope is that Donald Trump is every bit as much of a liar as he’s shown himself to be so far, and he does not enact or accomplish the many damaging things he’s promised.  But even if his presidency turns out to be far less sensational than his presidential campaign (which seems unlikely coming from a reality TV star), I mourn what his campaign has stirred up in the belly of America. The rage, racism, hatred, sexism, and prejudiced attitudes have now been validated. Even if that’s not why you voted for/supported Trump, those voices are the ones that were the loudest and continue to be now. It wouldn’t have been much better if Hillary won because the atmosphere has already been charged with these hateful feelings, but at least the person who inspired that energy wouldn’t then hold the highest office in the United States of America.

And what makes me most sad of all, is that many of you won’t understand why I’ve been plagued by anxiety during this whole election season. Why can’t I let it go? What’s wrong with me? Based on Donald Trump’s track record, he would call me “weak.” But mental illness is not a weakness even if it feels like it at a time like this in our nation.

For now though, I’ll leave you with a little bit of music that helped me calm the nerves today. I hope if you’re feeling anxious or despairing, this brings you a little relief. And if you’re celebrating that it gives you some insight into what your fellow citizens are feeling now.

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What It Means to Be “Creative” for 30 Days | October 2016 Creative Sprint

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I’ve always considered myself a pretty creative person. In grade school I considered creativity my best asset. Parents, friends, teachers were in awe of the creative ideas or projects I would come up with and praise me for my unique way of thinking.  And today, while I still work hard to produce lots of creative content weekly for my YouTube channel and blog, and people still occasionally praise me for my creativity, I feel less creative than I ever have.

Many times I long for the days of my childhood where out-of-the-box ideas were prolific.  I can remember the constant stream of story ideas and the overflowing journals with poems, short stories, and reflections on life. I was always sketching or painting or working on a larger art project.  Most of my clothes were some DIY creation, and every holiday/birthday/special event warranted a handmade card and gift.

But slowly–imperceptibly even–those creative activities that filled my thoughts and occupied my hands during every free moment slipped away, filled in by some obligation or self-doubt.  It’s not that I stopped being creative. Creative thinking is a skill that you can bring to pretty much every part of your life, so I’ve continued doing creative things.  But I lost the confidence to continue exploring the creative activities I’d always loved.  I found myself spending more time using my creative skills for needs rather than just desires.  And for me, the joy of creativity comes from being creative for creativity’s sake.

So enter the Creative Sprint!  If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen some of my posts about it, but I wanted to reflect on the project as a whole on the blog this week. It was a 30 day challenge where you were emailed a daily prompt to help you make or do something creative. Prompts ranged from being inspired by the color green to using items you found outside or in your kitchen to create something.  It also focused on cultivating a creative community with the hashtag #CreativeSprint so you could find other Sprinters and follow and encourage them and even had prompts asking you to work with or be inspired by them.

You would think that 30 days of creative projects for someone who loves being creative and desperately wants to inject some art back into her life would be a dream come true!  And it was…in some ways. It was also a nightmare in others.  Encouraging yourself to do a creative thing every day is easy. For me, coming up with an idea for a creative thing every day was pretty easy too.  (It actually got to be quite exciting where I would go to bed happily anticipating what the next day’s prompt would be and gleefully opening my email when I awoke to read it).  But actually DOING the creative thing came to be the hard part. I think that is where the self-doubt comes in.  And why I stopped being so free with my artistic endeavors.

I still have lots of ideas–maybe not as many as I did when I was young and mostly obligation free as a tween (which, honestly, if you put aside all the hormonal changes, I’d suggest is the most creative and free time of your life).  But I rarely follow through with any of those ideas anymore.  I don’t create the giant mixed media collage because the canvas is expensive and where would I put it anyway? I don’t start writing the novel idea I had because I haven’t finished a novel yet so why should I start another idea for it just to rot half developed? I don’t actually sketch in my sketchbook because that last sketch I did wasn’t any good so why would I want to document my degrading art skills?

But during the month of October, I made myself DO the creative things. Sometimes it was with satisfaction and excitement.  Other times it was past 9 pm and I was ready for bed but scrambling to scrape together something. There are days that I’m incredibly proud of.  There are other days that I would rather hide from the world.  But it can’t be argued that I now have 30 more art pieces than I started October with.  And probably 30 more pieces than I would have created at all had there not been the Creative Sprint.

What I really took away from this challenge though is not just 30 pieces of art (good and bad), it was the realization that I have some work to do with overcoming my self-doubt when it comes to making art. Because I love painting and sketching and writing and creating things. But I’m stopping myself from doing those things out of fear.  In the digital age where every creative thing a person does seems to need to be broadcast to the internet in order for it to be “real,” it’s hard to not compare yourself to others or to feel confident enough to share something that you’re proud of even if it’s not professional level art. (And who’s to say what’s “professional” level and what’s not anyway?)

Just like any other skill, you have to practice to get better.  So I think if I want to get better at writing and art (or at least to get back to the place of confidence I was at in high school and early college), I need to work on it more.  Maybe not everyday, but MUCH more often than I have been.

So what do you think? How have you struggled with your creativity and self-doubt or confidence issues? Tell me down in the comments!

Also check out this gallery of all the things I created for the Creative Sprint!  I’d highly encourage you to sign up to participate in their next sprint which should be in May. Sign up now and they’ll notify you when it’s getting close!