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A New Website and Christmas Break!

Hello my friends! I just wanted to write a quick update to let you know that you might be seeing a little less of me on the blog in December. One of my 2017 goals has been to finally turn this blog (Imagining Happenings) into a full-fledged website that curates all my content (videos, writing, art, etc), but to do that, I really need a little extra creative time and the ability to work behind the scenes. So I thought, what could be a better time than during the holiday season when people are going every which way already?

Most likely I won’t be entirely absent during the next month since I’m going to Christmas Town this evening (😀) so there will be a video and (most likely) blog for that soon, and I have several super fun holiday-themed videos planned for December that might warrant a behind-the-scenes blog or two! But overall, I really want to try to allocate the time I usually spend writing for the blog every week tinkering on the backend and rebranding.

If you’ve checked out my YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter banners recently, you should have noticed a change! These new banners were the first step in my design process as I’m moving to a  galaxy-theme (because we’re so unique, we must be from outer space!) of blues, purples, and pinks and adding a cat with glasses (because, of course!) as my mascot. It’s still somewhat a work in progress, but when I re-launch the website, you can expect something along these lines!

I’m excited for the ideas I have for the site, and I could use good vibes and prayers that I can spend my time efficiently to bring them from ideas to reality!

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A Year of Thanks (and Giving) // A Poem

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! And welcome to the holiday season!

This time of year is filled with so many wonderful memories for me, but as someone who suffers from depression, it’s also a particularly hard time as I struggle to separate the happiness and nostalgia from the anxiety and the clouds. I tried to capture some of the struggle of dealing with these conflicting emotions during a time that’s supposed to be “joyful” in this poem (and illustrate them in the corresponding video). The holiday season is an exciting and magical time, but I hope you don’t forget how hard it can be for many others. For me, I just try to focus on this simple and embrace each good moment as it comes.

A Year of Thanks (and Giving)

This time of year
Always reminds me
Of how simple life
Used to seem.
When holidays were
about family and food
And celebrating the simple moments.
But even though
each new year brings more joy.
There’s also more sadness.
And it can be harder
To be thankful
To be joyful
To see the light in the darkness.
So I focus on the simple again,
Capturing the moments
As best I can.
Holding onto that
Childlike innocence and
Watch it grow in others.
Embracing the silly
And truly enjoying the
Things I love.
Filling my life with
As much color and
Curiosity as possible.
Clearing my mind and
Trying to see through
The fog to new days ahead.
Remembering to fill my cup
And embrace self-care
Because self-hate only
Leads to an empty room
And I’m so tired of being alone.
Time wants to escape from us,
Shifting through the cracks and
Ticking down the moments we have left.
And so here we are with
Another year of
Thanks (and giving)
And I just hope
I have given enough.

Here’s the stop motion animation video I made to go along with the poem!

Also, if you’re interested in other thoughts on how the holidays are not so easy, check out these blogs!

15 Things I’m Not Thankful For This Thanksgiving
Sometimes It’s Hard to Be Thankful

 

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A Farewell to The Mindy Project

So The Mindy Project aired its final episode this week. Season 6 was particularly short (only 10 episodes!) which is heartbreaking (because why can’t it go on forever!), but also I think realistic considering Mindy Kaling’s real life pregnancy and how well this season did on bringing in old characters and tying up storylines.

Also, it should be noted that if you haven’t watched the final episode or aren’t caught up on this season, this post will contain SPOILERS! So I highly recommend you skip this post until you’ve indulged in the final moments of Mindy’s story!

So now, let’s talk about that ending!

When Mindy and Danny broke up in season 4, I wrote this blog post detailing how I felt like the show did an amazing job at bringing to light some of Danny’s not-so-Prince-Charming qualities slowly over the course of the first half of the season which ultimately ended in one of my favorite drama-worthy scenes from the series in which Mindy and Danny fight over the disconnect between her professional ambitions and her duties as a mother/wife.  It’s in this scene that it becomes clear that Mindy will never be able to be herself if she stays with Danny.

It was heartbreaking, but a great moment to propel Mindy towards more personal growth. And since that point, Mindy has been moving forward as she adjusted to being a single mom, starting her own business, making friends with (and I think inspiring change in) the most sexist and racist character on the show, finding the Prince Charming and fairytale ending she’d always wanted but realizing life isn’t as simple as it seems in romance movies and ultimately getting a divorce.

The Mindy Project has always been a show that puts a spin on the classic idea of a “Rom-Com” so I don’t know exactly how I feel that the show ended with the very typical rom-com resolution of “guy shows he’s changed with a romantic gesture and guy and girl decide to get back together because they never stopped loving one another.” It’s hard to assess because on the one hand, I’m a fan of the show, and I’ve known from the beginning that the only person capable of matching Mindy’s crazy is Danny (who we learn over the course of the show has his own closet full of crazy) and so the thought of them being end-game especially after such a long (and needed) break-up is both exciting, but also disappointing.

While it’s great that Danny seems to have changed his mind on “Mothers in the Workplace,” it’s still by no means a perfect relationship.  I think they do pay respect to that fact a bit because after their make-up kiss, Danny immediately launches into the “I can’t live in your apartment” shtick that caused stress two and half seasons ago.  Mindy quickly shuts this down as a topic for later and points out that Danny does in fact like cupcake shops despite the discomfort it causes to his machismo.

Really the problem may be how rushed the ending felt since I was left with so many questions. While your average rom-com tends to gloss over the questions of the feasibility of a relationship, The Mindy Project has always handled them head on which is why in this moment of resolution, it seems strange to throw our seemingly star-crossed lovers together but still with so many doubts of whether their relationship can work hanging over our heads.

But then it also might be an attempt to show that relationships are messy and far from perfect. And that sometimes you just find a person that you fit the best with even if the edges aren’t quite all trimmed and try to work it out the best you can.  Sometimes it takes being apart and growing as separate people but ultimately coming back together. Maybe, hopefully it will work for Mindy and Danny, but perhaps the best we can do is try.

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Please Remember That the Stranger Things Kids…are KIDS

Hey, did you watch Stranger Things 2? Because I watched Stranger Things 2, and it was everything I could have hoped for and more! (Plus, we get a season 3, right? RIGHT?!) But if you’ve been on the Internet post-ST2’s release, you probably also know that more than the awesomeness of this season is being discussed. Most concerning in this online discussion: how “hot” the Stranger Things stars are.

This is really freaking creepy.

Yes, the Stranger Things kids are adorable. Yes, Millie Bobby Brown looks 110% more stylish than me in all the press photos and it makes me feel a bit self-conscious. And yes, these kids make my inner boy-crazy 12 year old heart squeal in delight.  But we call them the “Stranger Things KIDS” for a reason. It’s because they’re CHILDREN.

I haven’t quite figured out why people think it’s ok to sexualize children. And then, even more confusing, when child stars grow up to have “rebellious” stages or revel in their sexuality, it’s seen as obscene and that the star has “gone bad.”  

Miley Cyrus is a prime example. In her Disney Channel Hannah Montana days, she was sweet and innocent. And also had adult men crushing on her.  But then fast forward to her Wrecking Ball, bleached blonde, grinding on Robin Thicke at the VMAs days, and she’s “gone too far!” “She’s a slut!” “She’s disgusting!”

This is a genuine face palm moment. Which is it? What do you want from her? Can she only be “sexy” if it’s on the general public’s terms? Does taking control of her own sexuality somehow make her disgusting?

This same kind of double standard has happened over and over again with child stars as they are sexualized and exploited at such a young age and then when they become adults and they lash out against their past treatment or spiral into addiction or some other unfortunate coping mechanism, they’re rejected. The collective tide of public love turns to scorn when what made them famous in the first place (i.e. their singing, acting, dancing, creative ability) hasn’t changed at all. Suddenly they are seen as ungrateful for the fame that the public has bestowed upon them. (In fact, this is happening already as Finn Wolfhard was shamed for not interacting with fans outside of his hotel). They are throwing away the privileges that their celebrity has given them. And they are betraying their greatest fans.

I suppose it might be that I just don’t understand the kind of ownership that fans feel for actors, movies, books, etc. That because there is a collective love for something that they’ve taken part in, then the people who benefit from it (i.e. authors, actors, screenwriters, directors, artists, etc) are somehow indebted to those fans. And they should take whatever is thrown at them like being a sex symbol at 13 or being expected to fawn over all your fans all the time even if they’re skulking around outside your hotel when they shouldn’t be there.

The Stranger Things Kids are just kids. They’re children who landed incredible roles and are wonderful young actors and have become part of a pop-culture phenomenon. But please, let’s protect them as best we can. Let’s not sexualize them. Let’s not demand they interact with us if it’s not at a sponsored event where that’s the main purpose. (And even then, remember to respect boundaries because they’re still humans who sometimes are sick or having a bad day and aren’t functioning at 100% all the time.)

Instead, why don’t we embrace these fun and full-of-life kids for all their quirks and cute teenageness. And hope they can have somewhat normal and successful adult lives not marred by the shadows of too-quick childhood fame. That’s the least we could do for these little actors who’ve brought so much bingeable goodness into our homes, right?

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Adulting Ahead

If you haven’t already seen the slightly sleepy and delirious vlog I made with Alanna at William & Mary’s Homecoming discussing the peaks and valleys of post-college life, I highly recommend you do that now!

Otherwise, I’m going to dive right into a few more thoughts on “Adulting” because even though I was SO TIRED when we filmed that video from a day full of travel and nostalgia, we started to hit on a lot of topics that I realize I have more insight into now! Within a few months of graduating (and job searching), I made this video about post-college life which makes me laugh now at how young and naive I was!

 

 

At this point, I was definitely experiencing some of the disappointment of post-college life (especially in 2012 when the economy and the job market was just starting to get its feet back under itself!) But I didn’t know what it was like to work a full-time job yet. I didn’t know what it was like to rent an apartment or make car payments or see my friends go off on different tracks of life and at different speeds.

Now while I definitely don’t feel like I have this “adulting” thing fully under control quite yet, I do think I know A LOT more than I did at 22/23 when I’d only been a year out of college and was slowly adjusting to post-college life. I know how to call the insurance company and get my car fixed if after having a wreck (both when it’s my fault and someone else’s!) I know what it’s like to do long-distance adult dating. (It sucks…) I know what it’s like to have to live with your parents because you are poor and jobless, and what it’s like when you’ve lived there a little bit TOO long and you feel like you’re going insane and wondering if you’re 16 or 26.  I know what it’s like to job-search the heck out of yourself and what it’s like to move to a new city for a job. I definitely know a lot more about all this practical adult stuff (and I find that I’m still learning everyday), but I’ve also learned so much about what it’s like to emotionally be an adult.

Yeah, I know that sounds all “mushy-gushy-feelings” or whatever, but I think one of the things I was least prepared for was how “adulting” would affect me emotionally.  With practical tasks like job-searching and apartment hunting and dealing with your insurance, if I didn’t know what I was doing, I could call a parent or grandparent or friend who knew more than me. They could walk me through the steps, remind me of the questions I’d need to ask, and give me the general low-down.  What calling in backup couldn’t do though is prepare me for the crippling self-doubt that comes along with just about every new decision and situation I find myself in as I navigate this world of adulthood. So emotionally I’ve had to do A LOT of learning and growing over the last few years, and I think it’s this aspect of adulting that high-achievers like myself are so ill-equipped for when we leave college.

Which is why I want to start making more post-college and “adulting” advice videos on my YouTube channel. iIMAGINEblank seems to grow with me, and now we’re moving into a space where I have more advice for young adults rather than teens. (Though don’t worry! They’ll always be advice for teens too!) So I’m wondering: what your post-college questions? Whether they’re questions you actually have because you’re nervous about the future or you are an adult but would like to know my take on a particular post-college/adulting topic. Basically what kinds of topics should be in my “Adulting Library?”  Let me know in the comments and you might just see a video about it soon (with a shout-out for your suggestion, of course)!

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Get Into the Halloween Spirit with My Favorite Halloween Video Creations!

I’ve always loved Halloween for its magic and how it inspires me to be creative. It was an excuse to dress up in fun and imaginative costumes that people would actually see (as opposed to just my parents who I gave daily fashion shows of my latest creations), and a time to imagine myself in a world where witches and monsters and ghosts roamed the land waiting to be discovered by my inquisitive detective work. Basically for a kid with a highly overactive imagination, it was heaven.

And even though I’ve grown up, Halloween has never quite lost the magic for me. Instead, it’s become my favorite time to make videos on my YouTube channel. An excuse to make cool costumes even if I don’t have a party at which to show them off. An excuse to be super silly and feel like a kid again. An excuse to just plain old try new things (which sometimes can be hard to do when you’re making consistent videos on YouTube and feel like you have a “formula.”)

So to celebrate the season, I thought I’d put together a little list of my favorite Halloween videos to get you into the Halloween spirit!

Halloween Imagination

This one is an oldie but a goodie! This was the first video on my channel where I actually decided to wear costumes rather than just talking about or showing still pictures of them. Here I pulled together all the costumes I’d worn over the last several years and still had hanging around in my closet: a Unicorn, Luna Lovegood, 50’s Poodle Skirt Girl, a Painter, and a Lion Tamer/Circus Ringleader. It was also Sir Finnegan’s first Halloween and though I didn’t try to put any costumes on him, he did help me out as the lion to my lion tamer costume!

 

Howl-O-Scream 2016

I’ve been making Howl-O-Scream videos since 2014 when I first started as a Thrill Chaser exclusive blogger with Busch Gardens. There are 4 on my channel for each year, but I think the one from 2016 is my favorite because I was able to go the media event (which always has its perks) and I had a Scare-Cam on during my first tour through that year’s new haunted house, Circo Sinistro. I just think my faces are hilarious in this one and it’s great to actually get to take you along with my in the house! (Plus dolls are just SO CREEPY!)

 

Why Do Women’s Halloween Costumes Have to Be Sexy?

If you’re in more of a mood for a rant about Halloween, then this one’s perfect for you! In the fall of 2012, I was SUPER frustrated with trying to find a Halloween costume that didn’t have “SEXY” added to the name (e.g. Sexy Indian, Sexy Police Officer, Sexy Snow White, Sexy Pizza, etc) and a skirt that was about 6 inches shorter than it really needed to be. I mean, can’t we have costumes where their main purpose isn’t about how much boobage or thigh you can show? It’s one thing to look sexy in your costume, but it’s another if your ONLY costume option is “Generic Sexy Whatever.”

 

My Cat Tries On Halloween Costumes

 

What could be better than seeing Finnegan all dressed up as a shark and a pirate and a dragon?! Nothing! Nothing could be better. In this video, I finally took the plunge and bought some halloween costumes for Finn, despite him not really being a “clothes” cat. When I’ve tried putting a harness on him because I have this intense (but probably misguided) desire to make him an adventure cat, he’s just flopped on his side and refused to move. The costumes actually went a little better than expected, but he’s still not particularly enthused at being contained by a silly costume! However, this video is filled with some of the best kitty cuteness that I’ve ever released on my channel, in my opinion!

 

Halloween Lookbook

Finally, I have to give a shout out to my latest video where I created a fashion-forward lookbook from some of my favorite Halloween characters. This video is intended to give you some style inspiration if you want to celebrate Halloween but can’t wear a costume to work or school, but after I’d filmed it, I realized that most of these looks could easily be turned into costumes as well with an appropriate wig and makeup! So I’m killing two birds with one stone in this video for you!

 

I hope you’ll take some time watch some of my favorite Halloween videos so you can get into the spooky season spirit! 👻🎃🕷

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Turtles All The Way Down Book Tour with John & Hank Green

In 2012 I attended VidCon for the first time and was recognized by Michael Buckley as a “YouTuber on the Rise.” I got to go onto the mainstage while he introduced the promising creators to the crowd and afterward, as I was walking off stage, John and Hank Green (who were co-MCing the morning’s events because VidCon was still small enough at this point for them to do so) passed by and offered their congratulations. And before I even knew what was happening, John Green hugged me.

John Green hugged me. Like no big deal.

And the saddest part about this whole incident was that I really didn’t know THAT much about John (or Hank) at this point. I knew they made up the Vlogbrothers and had seen some of their content. But wouldn’t have considered myself a “Nerdfighter” at that point. And I definitely hadn’t read any of John’s novels yet. It wasn’t until I got back to my new found VidCon friends who I quickly learned were DEFINITELY Nerdfighters that I realized the gravity of the situation.

People wait in lines for hours to hug John Green! And I got a casual, congratulatory hug like it was nothing.

So now let’s fast forward five years. I have decided that maybe there’s some merit to this whole “John Green” thing and read all his books (except Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and that’s only because it wasn’t in my library during my “Read Everything By John Green” phase). I made sure I saw (and sobbed through) “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Paper Towns” in theaters. And I’m an avid “Dear Hank and John” podcast listener in part because I deeply relate to John’s cynicism (and germaphobia). Essentially, I have very much embraced Nerdfighteria.

And when John announced his book tour for his latest novel “Turtles All the Way Down,” and I saw there was a stop in Washington, D.C. (which is about as close of a stop most anyone makes near me because so few people come to Virginia!), I knew I had to find a way to go. Because despite seeing John and Hank perform in various capacities at VidCon for the last 5 years, it just felt like there was something special about this particular tour at this particular time in my life and the world.

And it was immensely special. It was silly (as expected) and heartfelt (because TAtWD deals with struggles that though contained in a fictional book, are very real things John’s dealt with) and something I really needed.

Feeling part of a community is so important. And the Internet has made it possible to be a part of many diverse communities that before the ability to digitally erase physical distance, would have been impossible. However, the difficulty of internet communities is that the physical distance does eventually become felt. VidCon was the first answer to this problem for me, but now it’s become SO BIG and with SO MANY communities coming together that it can be hard to connect with the right people in the right communities that mean something for you.  

Which is why if you have to opportunity to go to something like a John Green Book Tour stop where you’re in an auditorium filled with people who are all very much a part of the same community you are, you absolutely need to do it!  The last five to six months have been really tough for me and one of the things (surprisingly enough) that’s kept me grounded has been listening to the Dear Hank and John podcast. While hearing Hank and John give answers or insights that I agree with or find interesting is one part of it, what’s really helped me is hearing other Nerdfighters’ questions. They are inquisitive and sarcastic and confused by the world sometimes. But more than anything it confirms that other people, all around the world even, go through some of the same struggles I go through. It’s a helpful reassurance to know I’m not alone.

All of this is to say, I’m so thankful that the Green Brothers are out there creating communities for people like me and that I get to be a part of them digitally and even sometimes physically. These are special moments for me, and I hope that you have a community (or two!) that you can take part in this way too!

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