What Is Your Vote Saying?

What is your vote saying?

If your daughter/sister/mother was sexually assaulted, would you vote their molester/rapist into the white house?

If your race was being heavily discriminated against, would you vote someone into office who contributed to the problem?

If your right to love, marry, and start a family was at risk, would your vote go to someone who does not support your lifestyle?

If your family was being ripped apart, deported unfairly, or kept in detention centers, would you vote for the man trying to eject you and your loved ones?

What makes all these things worth it for you? Money? Taxes? The right to bear arms?

I honestly want to know why anything would take priority for your vote over human rights.

Maybe it’s easy for you to justify, because you aren’t personally affected. But that’s incredibly selfish, and you are voting for hate.

Nothing like the above should be worth your vote when huge groups of people are suffering in so many ways.

Think about what your vote says. If you vote for Trump, here is what you’re saying:

You’re okay with women being sexually harassed. You’re okay with black people being racially profiled and harmed unfairly. You’re okay with LGBTQ+ rights being taken away. You’re okay with Mexicans and other non-white races being deported unjustly. You’re okay with injustice and collusion in your government. You’re okay with bullying and immature name calling representing our country. You’re okay with hate existing in America.

Think about your female, black, queer, trans, and immigrant friends and loved ones. Would they be proud of you?

This isn’t about your political party. It’s simply about human rights and equality.

Please think long and hard about where your vote is going this year. Think about what your vote is truly saying. Think about what side of history you want to be on.

Thanks for reading.

Quarantine Diaries: Animal Crossing New Horizons

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Full disclosure: After buying Animal Crossing: New Horizons, this now takes up maybe 50% of my waking hours. When I first got it, it was probably more like 80% or some days even 90%. It’s the best game and I love it so much and if you have a switch, it’s worth it, hunny – get it!!

I played Animal crossings as a kid, but it was on my friend’s gaming system so I only played a little bit here and there. Playing the new version has been amazing – it’s what I remember plus so many cool new features. I’ve had such a blast 4fixing up my town, earning and setting up my house, and collecting all the fruits and flowers. I’ve visited some islands of my friends, and also strangers from Facebook groups and Reddit threads. There’s a lot of things that I learned from doing some google searching, and things that I wish I had found out a lot earlier in playing the game. Here are 10 quick tips that everyone who is playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons should know:

AC81. Shake trees from the front while holding your net! You can find furniture, bells, and tree branches that will fall from the trees when you shake them. However, this puts you at risk of course for a wasps nest to fall and sting you. If you are holding the net and shake the tree from the front, you will turn to face the wasps when the nest falls. You can then use the net to catch the wasp before it stings you and sell it for a decent price at the shop. Shaking your trees daily to catch wasps and collect the items that fall can really pay off!

AC72. Bury the bells you dig up each day, but change the amount first! When you dig up the bells from the glowing spot in the ground and bury them back in the whole, a money tree will grow. However, if you change the amount before burying it in the glowing hole, you can harvest more bells when the money tree blossoms. I usually bury 10,000 bells each day, so the tree will give me a 30,000 harvest in the end. I’m sure you can do even larger amounts if you have the bells in your pocket when you go to plant them. This will only work once per day obviously, as you can only bury the money in the glowing hole in the ground that shows once daily. 

AC63. Don’t break rocks if you don’t have to! If you continue to hit them again and again, you will continue to gain materials that jump out. But if you break it, you only get one. You can break the rock if you are on an island that is not yours, or also if you do not like the location of the rock on your own island. But new rocks will only grow once per day, so do this with caution. Also, make sure to harvest the rock completely before you break it! (I learned this lesson the hard way unfortunately.)

AC44. Visit other islands as much as possible! By using Nook Miles Tickets or visiting the islands and trading with your friends, you can acquire things that cannot me found on your own island. This includes different breeds of flowers, trees, and fruit. Using a Nook Miles Ticket will also allow you to gain extra resources and materials when you run out from your island. 

AC55. Collect fruit from other islands, then bury them to plant a tree! You only need to start with even one piece of fruit from a friend to plant a tree and eventually end up with an orchard. If you use a Nook Miles Ticket and find yourself on an island with foreign fruit, make sure to bring back either the fruit or the entire tree. I have all 6 fruits on my island, which comes in handy often for crafting or re-organizing my island. 

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6. Save your cross-bred flowers! You will have flowers sprout each day when existing and blooming flowers of the same kind are planted close to each other, and you should save anything that is not able to be store bought. Aside from red, yellow and white (and in one case, orange), you cannot buy any other color flowers from the shop. Don’t get rid of any cross-bred flowers too quickly, because it may be difficult to get them back. 

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7. Be careful of building bridges before unlocking terraforming! Once you unlock the Island Designer app and can change up the layout of your island, you may regret some bridges and inclines that were build prior to access to this tool. I’ve had to demolish two bridges since unlocking the app, which both cost 98,000 bells to build. I’m not saying not to build anything, because it can make navigating the island that much easier. But choose carefully to avoid having to demolish things that you worked hard for. 

AC18. Save Nook Miles for Island Designer permits! When you’re ready to use the terraforming feature via the newly unlocked app, you will need to buy permits to add new capabilities. These cost Nook Miles, but will be delivered to your phone immediately. waterscaping and cliffscaping each cost 6,000 Nook Miles, and different path patterns cost 2,000 Nook Miles each. You’ll want to have access to everything as soon as the app is unlocked, so I recommend saving up as much as possible beforehand. 

60971353735__00f7b05e-30ee-4437-a118-142485e5b30b9. Utilize your catalog! If you are lucky enough to have friends that also play Animal Crossings, you can visit each others’ islands to have catalog and trading parties! Trading is self explanatory, but cataloging is a little more intricate. If your friend drops an item that you do not have, you can pick the item up and drop it again to add it to your catalog. Your catalog exists at the Nook kiosk at Resident Services, and shows everything that you’ve ever owned. Because you picked the item up for even a second, it gets added to this catalog. Having catalog parties is a great way to give your friends access to your inventory without giving away all your stuff, and vise versa! After the party, you can buy anything they have that you liked for yourself. Note: You can only purchase 5 catalog items per day, which includes special daily items. 

AC210. Some catalog items are customizable! Many of the DIY items that you can craft are able to be customized, but many of your other items can be customized as well. You should check anything that you come across for custom options, as it may help you to better decorate. Some of these items include the magazine, director’s chair, loom, ironing board/set, and many accent items as well on things like the mugs, corkboards, record box, etc. Double check what you can make your own!

 

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Let me know if you want to come visit my island!!

That’s all for the “Quarantine Diaries” series for now. Don’t forget to check my What To Watch series if you missed it. Another series next month!

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Quarantine Diaries: Food

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What’s on everyone’s minds these days? FOOD!!

I’m no master chef, but I do love cooking and I think I’m decent at it most of the time. I’ve done some new things while in quarantine, so I thought I’d share some of what I’ve made. Here’s some recipes/descriptions of the food I’ve made so far in quarantine:

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1. Rosemary Focaccia Bread: My best friend insisted that I make this dish after she perfected it on her own, and it was well worth it. It didn’t take super long, but I had never worked with yeast before so this was a new trick for me. I still was able to get success in 3 loafs that my girlfriend and I ate dipped in different balsamic vinegars and oil. Here is the recipe link: https://ourbestbites.com/rosemary-focaccia/.

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2. Beef and Brocolli with White Rice: This was given to me by a co-worker after she walked by with it in the office and filled up all of our noses with something delightful. There are a good amount of ingredients to make this, but you can easily double what the recipe calls for to get leftovers and make the effort last. It’s so delicious and hella worth it. Follow the recipe via Tasty here: https://tasty.co/recipe/easy-beef-and-broccoli. I’ve had several other people try this out after I posted it on my Insta story and no one has been disappointed yet. 

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3. Eggplant Sandwiches: No formal recipe here! I used to make this sandwich back when I worked in a pizza shop; it’s basically an eggplant parm sandwich without the tomato sauce. (You are welcome to add that to yours, I’m just not a fan.) First I used the Air Fryer to make breaded eggplant slices, then added the slices and cheese to a roll and popped it in the oven to make it a grinder. I’ve been big into sandwiches a lot during quarantine, so when I run out of eggplant to use, I usually make a BLT. (Except without the T, and add C (Cheese) and A (Avocado)). 

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4. Fried Tofu: My girlfriend, who is vegan, turned me onto this. (For best results, use a tofu press beforehand and use extra firm tofu.) You simply chop up the tofu bite size pieces and cook either using an air fryer or with oil in a skillet. Once mostly crispy, add in a sauce for flavor. We typically use a hot salsa, but a variety of condiments could be used for flavor here! Cook more once sauce has been added until tofu pieces are crispy on all sides. I usually serve with rice and veggies.

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5. Chile Rellenos: This is a long process that my girlfriend taught me, but the payoff is worth it for special occasions. I made this on Easter, and enjoyed the leftovers for three more days after. You first have to sear and blister the peppers to remove the outer layer of skin and remove the seeds from the inside. You then stuff the peppers with cheese and can fasten it back together with toothpicks if needed. You then bread the peppers with flour and prepared whisked egg, and fry. Make sure to remove all the toothpicks once they cool off!

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Bonus Air fryer dessert: Apple Crumbles: This is technically a vegan recipe, since it’s basically just deconstructed apple pie. I cut up apples and toss them in oil before then tossing them in brown sugar, cinnamon, and oats. I then air fry them and enjoy warm. Super simple and quick but incredibly delicious!

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One more in the Quarantine Diaries tomorrow to wrap up the series!

Thanks for reading.

Quarantine Diaries: At-Home Dates

31It’s easy for romance to get lost during the quarantine, especially since most days are probably spent with you and your partner both looking at the TV, computers, or your phones. I’ve found that it’s really important for me to still feel close to my girlfriend during the quarantine, so I’ve made sure that our relationship is a priority for us both. Part of this included me planning a few of what I call “at-home dates”. No, we didn’t leave the house. But I went out of my way to make things special and different during a time of monotony. I’ve only done two dates so far (roughly one per month), and I’d like to continue this and have a few more coming up if I can get creative again. Here’s what we’ve done so far:

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Date 1: So around 3 PM, I told Vanessa to go to her room and I would pick her up for our date at 5 PM. We hadn’t had any real reason to dressed up in a while, so we decided to go a little fancy. I set up a nice little picnic are3a out back with decorations, pillow and lights where we would eat dinner, and cooked while she was sequestered in her room. After I picked her up, we went and had a lovely dinner outside. I made sure that we didn’t use 36our phones and really just took a nice pause to connect. After dinner we had tickets for a show, which was one of the digital drag shows. Raja was performing, and I had set up the computer area to be a fancy at-home theater. We drank some wine while watching the show, and once it was over we changed into our pajamas and continued to get drunk while on the couch watching Drag Race. It was seriously such a fun night from start to finish and was a great way to do something new while still at home. 

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Date 2: This date was definitely not as full-out as the first one, but I still told Vanessa to go to her room for a bit to get dressed up while I cooked. It was a bit more casual this time, so it wasn’t quite as fancy as the first date. I set up a nice space for us to have dinner outside, and we again focused on each other rather than our electronic devices. We also shared a hookah at table after, which I had recently ordered on Amazon so it was fun to use my new toy. We then went inside to watch a movie and snuggle up on the couch together.

We are all trying to stay sane during this weird time – so don’t let your relationship fall by the wayside! Offer to cook a special dinner one night, find new ways to connect, or have full out dates like I did. But either way, make sure to keep love a priority.

More to come in the “Quarantine Diaries” series tomorrow!

Thanks for reading.

Quarantine Diaries: Digital Drag Shows

My biggest disappointment during COVID was the canceling of all my plans – specifically, DragCon. DragCon is legit my favorite time of year, and I’m still not done being sad that we can’t partake this year. So to help cheer me up, next up in the “Quarantine Diaries“, let’s talk DRAG!

There’s been many ways that you can get your fix of drag during this quarantine besides just binging every episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. First of all, there’s been tons of queens going live on Instagram. This includes both queens from the current season, like Jan and Nicki Doll, and some of the classic favorites like Ongina and Jujubee. There’s also been tons of digital shows that were hosted over the past couple and upcoming months from several platforms.

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First there is the Digital Drag Fest via StageIt, where you can find many of your favorite queens from the show and others doing 30 minute shows for roughly $10 each. You can also use the platform to tip the performers, and most of them give virtual meet and greets as a prize to the top tippers. Some of the virtual shows we have seen include:

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JUJUBEE – “Live From Boston”2
ALASKA – “The Quarantine Cabaret”
RAJA – “Socialite Distancing”
SHARON NEEDLES – “Call Me On My Ouija Board”
MANILA LUZON – “At Home With The Luzons”
BENDELA CREME – “Terminally Detained”
ALASKA – “Snatch Game Series: Mae West & Lady Bunny”
SHARON NEEDLES – “Snatch Game Series: Michelle Visage”

Our favorite show so far has been Raja’s, simply because she was the most raw and effortless. Juju also put on a great show, and I laughed a ton during Alaska’s sets. Manila and Dela also had wonderful shows prepared, but my girlfriend and I were slightly disappointed by Sharon’s show. While we love Sharon and her creativity, her songs were a little on the low-energy side and it wasn’t the most engaging. Still, we had a great time at all of the shows and will continue to look for more upcoming events.

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The “Werq The World” tour that the queens typically follow after the seasons of the show air has obviously been postponed for now, so they have taken things virtually. There’s been two shows, and what’s great is that these shows have benefited out-of-work drag queens and local performers. The first show raised over $30,00024 and the second was almost just as much. Both shows were hosted by Lady Bunny and Bianca Del Rio, who were hilarious and certainly delivered the comedy I was expecting. The first event was featured queens such as, Kameron Michaels, Gigi Goode, Miss Vanjie, Yvie Oddly, Plastique Tiara, and more. Each queen either had a live or pre-recorded number to show off for the show.  The second virtual event is the “Battle Royale”, which has queens going head-to-head for an ultimate showdown. Battling queens include Alyssa Edwards vs. Plastic, Vanjie vs. Yvie, Asia O’Hara vs. Brooke Lynn Hytes, and more.

Lastly, since DragCon 2020 had to be canceled for the year, they still are giving a livestream event for “DragCon Live” on YouTube. It definitely won’t be the same, but at least it’s something to have in place for that weekend.

Support the queens, in whatever way you can!!

Thanks for reading!

Quarantine Diaries: At-Home Projects

1So, I’ve been working from home for over a month now. There’s been good days and bad days of course, as I’m sure everyone can relate to. And I’ve been doing lots of lazy activities to occupy my time. Here’s some projects that I’ve gotten into while being stuck at home for so long:

  1. Writing: If you haven’t already read my “What To Watch” series, I included lots of writingquaranTV suggestions and recommendations. Writing on my blog comes here and there when I get inspired, but I’ve also been working on writing my book, which is one of my goals for the year. If I’m being honest, it has often been hard to find inspiration to write most days, and I’ve been having a hard time motivating myself to sit down and write. Hopefully I can start to find the drive to continue my progress in this area.
  2. Sewing: So after watching Dickinson on AppleTV, I got some inspiration to take 12some old segments of notebooks and sew them together Emily Dickinson style. Once it came together, it was basically like a DIY notebook, and also freed up some space img_9853in my store-bought notebooks. I then took my sewing skills to my clothing, and transformed a skirt into a pair of shorts to make a cute matching set with a sweater I have. Next up to sew was blankets. I first took a flag that was given to me as a gift that I had no room for, and sewed it onto an old blanket to make an outside-blanket for my hammocks. My girlfriend then gave me all her old band Tshirts, and I sewed them together into a big Tshirt blanket for her. All I need to finish up that is a blanket that’s the right size to sew it onto, and it’ll be done!
  3. New House Items: Since I was spending more time outside, I got tired of sitting on my phone while watching things on my hammock. So I made some purchases and turned my backyard space into a small outdoor movie theater. We can fit two img_9630hammocks and even some chairs to view a decent image projected onto the side of our wall – and I love it! My girlfriend and I then turned the spare room into a home workout room, since her gym has closed. This includes some yoga mats for me, some resistance and weight training for her, and chalkboard walls to track progress. I also became obsessed with the video game Animal Crossings; New Horizons, so we added a TV to our living room to make it a game room where we can both play at the same time. We also bought a hookah that has been used both inside in the game room and outside next to the outdoor mini movie theater. 

So this is what the first month of quarantine has brought me to so far. My work has no indication of opening offices back up at this time until further notice, so I’m sure there will be more things for me to get into as time goes on.

More to come in the “Quarantine Diaries” Series!

Thanks for reading.

What To Watch: Premium Channel Shows

Well, I made it an entire week working from home. I’m actually kinda enjoying it, except for the part where alllllll my plans keep getting canceled. Plans that we had paid money for and had been looking forward to for months… Yeah, some rescheduled over canceled, but still. If it weren’t for that, I’d really be loving the WFH life.

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Here is the last of this week’s “what to watch” series! Caution: these shows may require a subscription to more than just Netflix and Hulu.

euphoriaEuphoria – HBO
This show got lots of buzz when it first came out, and Zendaya is phenomenal in it. She plays a teenager fresh out of rehab with no intention of staying sober, and comes with quite a cast of colorful and rebellious friends. Grab your sparkle eye make up and dive in (if you have access to HBO of course).

dickinsonDickinson – Apple TV+
This is a creative and modern take on the story of Emily Dickinson, and I love the current music mixed in with the old time decor. Also love that Emily was a lesbian of course (or bi? TBD). Honestly, there’s a free one week trial for Apple TV+, which is more than enough time to watch the entire series, so I highly recommend following that route.

orphan blackOrphan Black – BBC America
Tatiana Maslany was put to WORK for this show – since she plays over 6 different clones. Each clone has her own accent, hairstyle, and attitude. And they need to work together to take down their makers. I think that this can be watched on Amazon Prime Video if you have access.

posePose – FX
I LOVE INDYA MOORE. And I would DIE to go to a ball in the NYC drag scene. This show is a wonderful moment for the trans, queer, and black community; POSE the house down boots! The first season can actually be watched on Netflix and season two should be added in May.

ShamelessShameless – Showtime
True to its name, this show is a Southside Chicago masterpiece. I’ve never been so intrigued by a family in my life (except the Kardashians of course!) I’ve also been told that my celebrity look-a-like is Emmy Rossom, who plays Fiona. Most seasons can actually be watched on Netflix, except for the most recent which is on the Showtime app.

TV2I may or may not do a few more posts of TV or movie recommendations next week, but this wraps it all up for now. Hopefully you have plenty of suggestions to keep you occupied during your social distancing.

Happy quaranTV!

Thanks for reading.

 

What To Watch: Netflix Comedy Specials

netflix specialNext up in my “what to watch” series – something to provide some comedic relief! We definitely could all use a laugh right now, so let’s head to some stand up comedy. I’m partial to female comics if I’m being honest, so most of the stand up that I’ve watched is from female comedians. So first, here is a list of amazing stand up specials from some incredibly talented female comedians (and Pete Davidson) that I have already watched:

Taylor Tomlinson: Quarter-Life Crisis (2020)

Pete Davidson: Alive From New York (2020)

Fortune Feimster: Sweet & Salty (2020)

Leslie Jones: Time Machine (2020)

Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah (2019)

Iliza Shlesinger: Unveiled (2019)

Nikki Glaser: Bangin’ (2019)

Wanda Sykes: Not Normal (2019)

Amy Shumer: Growing (2019)

Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable (2018)

Iliza Sclesinger: Elder Millennial (2018)

Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget (2018)

Amy Shumer: The Leather Special (2017)

Iliza Shlesinger: Confirmed Kills (2016)

Chelsea Handler: Uganda Be Kidding Me (2014)

micThere is also a series of comedy specials produced by Tiffany Haddish, which features shorter sets from incredible and hilarious comedians. Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready is a 6 episode set, starring Tracey Ashley, Flame Monroe, Aida Rodriguez, Marlo Williams, April Macie, and Chaunte Wayans. If you don’t want to sit down for a whole hour, these smaller and more easily digestible segments may better fill your appetite.

There are hundreds of comedy specials available on Netflix, so there’s plenty that I haven’t watched just yet. So now, here is a list of some specials that I haven’t yet but intend to watch during this time of social distancing:

Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby (2019)

Jenny Slate: Stage Fright (2019)

Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones (2019)

Whitney Cummings: Can I Touch It? (2019)

Katherine Ryan: Glitter Room (2019)

Adam Devine: Best Time Of Our Lives (2019)

Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho (2019)

Ray Romano: Right Here, Around The Corner (2019)

Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias: One Show Fits All (2019)

Sebastian Maniscalo: Stay Hungry (2019)

Trevor Noah: Son of Patricia (2018)

Adam Sandler: 100% Fresh (2018)

Bert Kreischer: Secret Time (2018)

Demetri Martin: The Overthinker (2018)

Jim Jefferies: This Is Me Now (2018)

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (2018)

Tig Notaro: Happy To Be Here (2018)

Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife (2018)

John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous (2018)

Ricky Gervais: Humanity (2018)

Chris Rock: Tambourine (2018)

Fred Armison: Drummers Only (2018)

Kat Williams: Great America (2018)

Dave Chappelle: The Bird Revelation (2017)

Judd Apatow: The Return (2017)

Chris D’Elia: Man On Fire (2017)

Nick Kroll & John Mulaney: Oh, Hello On Broadway (2017)

Sarah Silverman: A Speck Of Dust (2017)

Tracy Morgan: Staying Alive (2017)

Maria Bamford: Old Baby (2017)

Dave Chappelle: Deep In The Heart Of Texas (2017)

Gabriel Iglesias: I’m Sorry For What I Said When I Was Hungry (2016)

Michael Che Matters (2016)

Bo Burnham: Make Happy (2016)

Ali Wong: Baby Cobra (2016)

John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid (2015)

Demetri Martin: Live (At The Time) (2015)

Jen Kirkman: I’m Gonna Die Alone (2015)

Chris D’Elia: Incorrigible (2015)

Chelsea Peretti: One Of The Greats (2014)

netflix stand upThere’s honestly almost 200 comedy specials on Netflix, so there’s many that didn’t make my list! Hopefully these are able to help us to laugh through this insane time.

Keep laughing, everyone!

Thanks for reading.

What To Watch: Netflix Originals

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of my “what to watch” series! How are we all holding up? Staying safe? Staying sane? Are we all going crazy while practicing social distancing, or are we enjoying the solitude? Have you ran out of things to watch and binge yet?!

netflixAssuming that most humans in the world have access to a Netflix account, your options are close to unlimited! There’s so many shows and movies to explore on Netflix, and they have really upped their game in terms of their original series! The amount of content can seem overwhelming, so here are my top 10 Netflix original shows that you should check out:

5 Netflix Original Reality Shows:

queer eyeQueer Eye
You may have been living under a rock if you haven’t at least heard of the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy reboot with the new Fab Five. Now is the time for some feel-good content, so head to watch/rewatch this revolutionary show! You will laugh, you will cry, and you will (attempt to) forget about the current insanity.

next in fashionNext In Fashion
Featuring Tan France from Queer Eye as a host, this reality competition focuses on fashion and design! A group of incredibly talented fashion designers are tasked with creating new looks and fresh concepts each week, with one winner in the end. It’s fun, it’s upbeat, and who doesn’t need more Tan in their life?!

the circleThe Circle
I want to be on this show so bad!! This is a reality competition similar to Big Brother, where contestants vote for who is in power and who goes home each week. The twist? They are all in separate rooms and can only communicate virtually. Some individuals chose to play as themselves, while others use false pictures and choose to play as a catfish. Someone PLEASE cast me for next season!

love is blindLove Is Blind 
This show is everywhere in the media right now, so there’s a good chance you’ve been bombarded with people telling you to watch this. I’m telling you, it’s worth it. The show has Bachelor vibes, but with the twist of dating through “pods”, where the men and women are to make connections and engagements without ever meeting face to face. They then go through a wild ride to their wedding day, where they have the option of saying “I do” or “I don’t”. Did I mention it was a wild ride? It’s a wild ride.

exBack With The Ex
Once you’re done with Love Is Blind, you may be feeling a void. It’s definitely not as good, but Back With The Ex can certainly fill that void for you. (Note: Netflix says this is an original series, Google disagrees, but I’m keeping it on this list anyway.) The title is self-explanatory: ex couples attempt to sort things out; some have not seen each other in 3, 6, or 28 years!! You may believe in love again.. or you may realize that ex’s should stay ex’s for a reason. Either way, please don’t call your ex to be your quarantine bae.

5 Netflix Original Scripted Shows:

oitnbOrange is the New Black
This isn’t a new show or anything, but it’s one of the absolute best ones out there. OITNB is loosely based on the story of Piper Kerman, who was sent to one year in a women’s prison for a 10 year old drug crime. The show then takes off to involve the stories of many other inmates that you will no doubt learn to love. The show gets real, brings up a lot of important conversations, and also will speak right to your heart. Seriously one of the most amazing shows that was ever made.

black mirrorBlack Mirror
OMG this is a CRAZY SHOW! Just like American Horror Story‘s seasons, each episode of Black Mirror is standalone, so you can watch the episodes in any order. Each episode explores an extreme scenario of technology in society. For example, what would happen if everyone’s credit score was based on social media likes? What if you could rewind your memories at will for all to see? What if Amazon’s Alexa was actually a clone of yourself? Safe to say, your mind will be blown more than once.

hill houseHaunting of Hill House
This is legit one of my favorite shows ever! I’m no expert in the genre of horror, but I love a show that can freak me out and stand my hair on end. This family of house flippers find themselves in quite a predicament when their haunted mansion starts to unleash its powers all around them. I’ve watched this more than once and probably will watch more times in the future. 

youYou
There is nothing like this show; the format is so unique and the plot twists are awesome. Penn Badgley does an amazing job of being creepy, alluring, frustrating, and interesting. Is this a love story? Is this a horror/thriller narrative? Take the ride to find out! Also, the actress who plays “Nellie” on Hill House can be seen as new love interest “Love” on season 2. Shit is about to get crazy!

grace and frankieGrace and Frankie
Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are timeless treasures that I am obsessed with. In this hilarious series, their husbands leave the women to be gay together, and the two very different gal pals are forced into an unlikely but beautiful friendship. My whole family watches this show, including my Grams who recently was introduced to binge-watching. Also, June Diane Raphael is my spirit animal in this show. (I tweeted that once and June liked the tweet!!)

NMore Netflix content coming tomorrow! Stay safe and stay sane.

Thanks for reading.

What To Watch: Rupaul’s Drag Race

Like I said yesterday, I’ve gotten plenty of binge-time while put on a work from home order. So what else is there to do besides write about my favorite shows? If you’re home and/or in quarantine and looking for more things to fit your television pleasure, check out my “What To Watch” list. Today’s highlight: Rupaul’s Drag Race!

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Rupaul’s Drag Race might be my favorite show of all time. Starting on Logo TV and making it’s way into VH1 and mainstream culture, winning Emmys along the way, this show is iconic. It’s funny and silly but also real and interesting and an amazing representation of culture. I’ve always been a huge fan of drag, and I could honestly watch this show all day long, forever and ever. 

To watch the competitions in order, you can follow the list below. Now I won’t give any spoilers to the winners, but I will list my favorite queen from each season:

Season 1 – (2009) – Favorite Queen: Ongina
Season 2 – (2010) – Favorite Queen: Jujubee
Season 3 – (2011) – Favorite Queen: Raja
Season 4 – (2012) – Favorite Queen: Willam
All Stars 1 – (2012) – My Winner: Raven
Season 5 – (2013) – Favorite Queen: Alaska
Season 6 – (2014) – Favorite Queen: Adore Delano
Season 7 – (2015) – Favorite Queen: Katya
All Stars 2 – (2016) – My Winner: Alaska
Season 8 – (2016) – Favorite Queen: Naomi Smalls
Season 9 – (2017) – Favorite Queen: Farah Moan
All Stars 3 – (2018) – My Winner: Shangela 
Season 10 – (2018) – Favorite Queen:  Miz Cracker
All Stars 4 – (2018-2019) – My Winner: Manila Luzon
Season 11 – (2019) – Favorite Queen: Miss Vanjie
UK Season 1 – (2019) – Favorite Queen: Divina DeCampo
Season 12 – (2020) – Favorite Queen (so far): Jan

season 12Season 12 is currently airing Friday nights on VH1, and only 3 episodes have aired so far. All Stars 5 has already filmed, so I would expect a release possibly for sometime this summer or fall. Additionally, with each episode of Rupaul’s Drag Race comes Rupaul’s Drag Race – Untucked, which features behind the scene moments and drama. “Girl, if you’re not watching Untucked, you’re only getting half the story.” You can also watch Rupaul’s Drag U, which features biological women getting a makeover by Drag Race favorites and alum of the show. 

The first two seasons of Rupaul’s Drag Race are kinda considered the “originals” – where Michelle Visage isn’t even able to be on the judging panel yet! Michelle arrives for season 3, which actually I think is part of the “originals” as well. Seasons 4, 5, and 6 are the strongest in my opinion, and really the staples of the show. Personally, I believe these are the seasons to watch! The first 6 seasons are all available rupaul 2on Hulu, so they are also the easiest to watch. The show really progresses in terms of quality, talent level, aesthetics, and overall format. Season 7 is a little “meh” for me, but Katya is basically the reason to watch it. It also bridges the old seasons to the new seasons (and is necessary before watching All Stars 2). Seasons 8 through 12 are the more mainstream seasons, and while they are still incredible, they are definitely not as good as the first 6. The earlier seasons just have some of the most talented and high quality queens ever, so the competition is so tight. Most of my favorite queens come from the earlier seasons, which is why All Stars 1 & 2 were so exciting for me! However, of all the all star seasons, I really only agree with one of the winners. All Stars kinda plays by its own rules, which is both exciting but risky. The UK season was also one of my favorites as well, with some killer queens and some wonderful accents. And I have to admit – this current season has some TIGHT competition. Come on Season 12, let’s get rupaul!sickening!

With this revolutionary competition, Rupaul has single-handedly launched the mainstream career of over 150 incredible queens, and so many more to come. With so many incredible queens and so much talent, it’s hard to pick your favorite. I came up with my top 10 queens of all time, which I’m telling you was NOT an easy task! Here’s my favorites to watch out for and why:

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#1: Alaska Thunderfuck – Season 5, All Stars 2
There is no one that can match the caliber of Alaska. She is witty, campy, creative, and untouchable. She can deliver comedy, glamour, talent, and isn’t afraid to get down and dirty and really take it there. She started as a determined super fan of the show, and is now one of the most well-known queens from the franchise. I also look to Alaska for all the inside info on her and Willam’s podcast, Race Chaser. Anus-thing is possible!

adore

#2: Adore DelanoSeason 6, All Stars 2 
She’s a libraaaa!! Adore is one of the most loved fan favorites of all time. She so charismatic, charming, hilarious, and spunky. She’s so unique and interesting, I could listen to her talk all day (I do, actually, sometimes on her Insta lives). She was also recently on the MTV show Ex On The Peak, where she seamlessly appears in and out of drag. Party!

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#4: Katya – Season 7, All Stars 2
I fucking love the shit out of this Russian hooker! Katya is adorably inappropriate and one of the most magnetic humans of all time. I would literally watch her do anything and be obsessed with it. Her laugh is infectious (it’s a rash, not a herpes sore!), and her uniqueness is undeniable. Lenin in the streets Dostoyevsky in the sheets!

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#3: WillamSeason 4
The OG disqualified queen! Willam is pure industry, having appeared on so many iconic TV shows (such as Sex & the City, Law & Order, CSI, etc.) and movies (Because I Said So, A Star Is Born, etc.). Willam is honest, truthful, and fucking hilarious. The waves that Willam made on her season had never been done before, and she’s not gonna Rupologize for it! I’m obsessed. 

ongina

#5: OnginaSeason 1
ONGINA IS THE CUTEST!!! I don’t always love a bald queen, but I love the original Ru bald queen! Ongina is so sweet, adorable, talented, AND an advocate. She’s simply wonderful, and has been my favorite queen to meet in person to date. And girlfriend can vogue the house down boots! You’ll just have to excuse the season 1 filter, hunty. 

alyssa edwards#6: Alyssa EdwardsSeason 5, All Stars 2
I needa, I needa, I needa, I needa, I need to get up in this Alyssa Edwards gig! *Tongue Pop* Alyssa is probably one of the most well known, most polarizing, and most quoted queens of all time. She is talented in a variety of areas, is vain as hell, and always ready to goof around. I live for her! Alyssa also starred in a Netflix series featuring her dance studio, called Dancing Queen. AAoooowwwwllright!

#7: ShangelaSeason 2, Season 3, All Stars 3shangela
Baby Shangela competed in the early seasons, and I found her endearing and cute. However, a very polished Shangela comes back to compete for All Stars 3, and she BRINGS it! From the House of Edwards, Shangela is high quality entertainment. She also appeared in A Star Is Born and Glee! Halleloo, bitches!

vanjie8: Miss Vanjie (Vanessa Vanjie Matteo)Season 10, Season 11 
Miss Vanjie, Miss Vanjie, Miss… Vanjie! I could listen to this queen talk forever – she is so fucking funny and her interviews on the show are the best commentary I could ask for. Miss Vanjie was such a fan favorite that she was asked back, and I bet we haven’t seen the last of her. She BRINGS it with the performance – queen can DANCE! I would die to see her in person. Yes, Mary!

#9: Gia GunnSeason 6, All Stars 4gia
Low key, Gia is one of the shadiest queens of all time, and I live for it. She’s brutally honest in a way that makes everything she says a catch phrase. Her look is so fishy, that I’m pretty sure she became a real woman! She was another queen that was a pleasure to meet at DragCon. She’s wonderful. Absoluuuutely.

raja10: RajaSeason 3
If you watch America’s Next Top Model, you know Raja as Sutan. But I know her as one of the best queens to ever walk into the Drag Race workroom. Raja is high fashion, elegance, and drag excellence. She’s whimsical, conceptualized, and unclockable. Everything she does is pure genius and brilliance. I live for Raja!

 

ruOMG that was seriously so hard! I mean, like I said there’s SOOO many queens!! And I love so many of them that it’s hard to rank. I could have done a list of over 20 of my favorite queens and include legends like Raven, Jujubee, Detox, Sharon Needles, Latrice Royale… UGH THEY ARE ALL SO GREAT!! I’ve actually gotten to meet many of these incredible humans at DragCon, including Ongina, Willam, Detox, Manila, Gia, Jiggly Caliente, Kennedy Davenport, and Ariel Versace.

The amazing queens are exactly why this show is so extraordinary. Start watching ASAP!

I hope everyone can stay sane during this crazy time! More to watch coming soon.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

What To Watch: American Horror Story

Just like many others I’m sure, my plans are getting all kinds of screwed up due to the current state of the world. The only bright side is that there are millions of shows to binge while in this “work from home until further notice” status that I’m in. There’s a bunch of things that I’m currently watching, and plenty that I might rewatch (including the Kardashians!).

American Horror Story is forever a fan favorite, and I find myself going back again and again. So, for anyone looking to dive into this amazing show, here is my personal ranking of the seasons to watch from best to worst.

ahsQuick note: For anyone who has not watched American Horror Story at all, each season is standalone. The actors may be the same from season to season, but each one is an entirely separate story, so the seasons can be watched in any order. The only season in which does not apply is Apocalypse, which combines the world of Coven and Murder House together. There’s also a very small crossover in Freak Show and Asylym for character “Pepper”, and Lana Winters can be found sprinkled through many seasons.

coven#1: Coven
I could watch this season again and again and again and again and never ever get tired of it. The witch vibe is like nothing else, and this season is packed full of horror. I also feel like this season does the best job of not leaving any plot lines open; everything gets wrapped up in a way that feels complete. Obsessed with this season, for real.

murder house#2: Murder House
This season is fantastic! Just like Coven, this season also does a great job of wrapping up all the plot points in a way that feels satisfying. It’s fascinating, messed up, hair-raising, and brilliant. Another season that I could just watch again and again and again.

asylum#3: Asylum
This season is so fucked up and I am HERE FOR IT. Things for sure get wacky, and it’s definitely not a perfect season. But with electroshock therapy, secret Nazis, and aliens – I couldn’t stop watching. Shit is crazy, and I love it.

cult#4: Cult
This season scared me in a new and different way, because it’s basically completely possible that this could happen in real life. There totally could be some Trump-loving wacko out in the world right now just like this – ready to paint their hair blue and cover their face in Cheetos. I’m honestly getting freaked out just thinking about it…

19984#5: 1984
This is the most recent season of AHS, released just this past fall. I loved the 80’s references, the nod to famous serial killers, and the “summer camp” theme. There was a lot of new cast members, and some iconic ones missing, which was my only disappointment. Also not a perfect season, but will be watching again very soon.

roanoke#6: Roanoke
The first time I watched this season, I was so confused. It was like it was broken up into two parts in a way, which I was not expecting. It was better the second time around when I was prepared for the mid-season switch. Also included in this season is a random appearance of Rupaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3 winner, Trixie Mattel. Gotta love when your favorite shows cross-over like that.

apocalypse#7: Apocalypse
I thought this was gonna be the dopest season yet – I mean, a blend of my two favorite seasons in one?! But honestly, it was just kinda “meh”. It was slow to start, and a lot of it was undone by the end. I wasn’t completely disappointed, but it wasn’t as good as I was expecting. I will say, however, that I was happy with the justice that was found for Queenie in the end.

hotel#8: Hotel
I was hype for this season as well, especially since Lady Gaga was in this cast! But I never really recovered from the spiked dildo rape scene. It pretty much turned me off for the rest of the season, and I never could bring myself to rewatch it. That, and the fact that I couldn’t tell half of the actors apart from each other, made this season really suck for me. I mean, Ryan Murphy must REALLY have a thing for brunette men with blue eyes…

freak show#9: Freak Show
Worst. Season. Ever. Seriously. They basically just kill off every member of the cast for absolutely no reason, and then call it a wrap. The plot is so sloppy, which is such a shame for such a cool theme for a season. It was scary at times, but mostly just disappointing. I wasn’t here for it.

Now I KNOW there are people who are not going to agree with me. “How can you put Hotel so low?!” they’ll say. “Coven wasn’t the best!” they’ll exclaim. “What were you thinking?!” they’ll cry. But one thing is clear – this show is genius and legendary. And if you don’t know yet, you’ll have to watch to find out!

Let me know you’re thoughts! Comment if you agree, disagree, and which seasons are in your top.

All 9 seasons of AHS are currently on Hulu, and the first 8 are on Netflix. New seasons typically air in October on FX.

Stay scared!

Thanks for reading.

5 Entertainers Of The Year

eotyI’ve subscribed to Entertainment Weekly magazine for the last couple of years so that I can stay up to date on new movies, TV, and music. Each year the announce their list of entertainers of the year, which features the most iconic and influential people in the entertainment industry. Here’s my favorites from the very long list of amazing people:

awk1.  Awkwafina
I first got to know Awkwafina on the MTV show Girl Code, where she was one of many hilarious female comics, and it’s been awesome to see her career take off. This rapper turned actress is not someone to sleep on. I believe we are gonna get used to seeing Nora Lum (her real name) more and more on our screens, and I am absolutely here for it!

billie2. Billie Eilish
I love what Billie stands for. Her music is original, different, and unique – and so is she. The statement that she’s made with her clothing is revolutionary, and everybody should be continuing that conversation. She’s so young, and is not going anywhere anytime soon, and I’m very thankful for that.

regina3. Regina King
Regina’s resume is incredibly impressive. She is hardworking and dedicated to her craft, and it really shows. She’s honestly done it all and continues to expand herself to more and more projects. Her voice is heard, wonderfully loud, and relevant. A true idol.

lil nas x4. Lil Nas X
I’m not a fan of country music, but I am in love with Lil Nas X. He is groundbreaking, and I am proud to be a part of the same community. He is one of the most unique people in the entire music industry, and he has created a lane all for himself. He hasn’t stopped since his first chart topper, and he knows how to use social media and meme culture to his advantage. People could learn a few tricks from his playbook, and he is absolutely one to keep an eye on. He’s going to continue to do great things. 

lizzoEntertainer.Cover_5. LIZZO
I stan Lizzo, and I always have. I’ve said it before: LIZZO IS EVERYTHING. She’s truly amazing, grabbing the title not only in the list featured in Entertainment Weekly, but also TIME’s solo Entertainer Of The Year. She is so deserving. Lizzo is the kind of artist that makes you fall in love with music all over again. I look to her music for every mood, every occasion, and everywhere I go. She’s genius, monumental, and exactly what the world needs. Long live Lizzo!

SterlingBrown-FTRHonorable Mention: Sterling K Brown
Don’t sleep on Sterling! He is talented, relevant, and fierce. Don’t let him pass you by.

Thanks for reading!

VOTE! (The Democratic Primaries)

vote 000I’m gonna be pretty honest here: I’ve been really frustrated with politics lately. It’s no secret that I really hate the current state of our country, and if you follow me on Instagram, I’m sure you know my distaste for our current president. While I have hope that we can someday get back to a place where the country is not so severely divided, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Unfortunately, I truly don’t have a whole lot of hope for this election, and it’s actually really bumming me out. After the impeachment was acquitted, I really lost a lot of hope in our country ever being anything other than this extreme version of bipartisan. People are just blindly following their party, regardless of anything that is happening in the world. I know how important this election is, and I would love to see literally anybody besides Trump take office. However, my hopes are not high.

Sometimes I sit and think, ‘it probably doesn’t even matter if you vote. Vote, don’t vote, whatever.’ Sometimes my hope for the country goes entirely out the window. Sometimes I feel embarrassed to be an American, and I doubt that the upcoming election will change that. I realize that it might be controversial to say this and to be so unpatriotic, but this is how I am feeling. When I see an American flag these days, I just associate it with prejudice, bigotry, and injustice. I constantly dream about saying “fuck it” and leaving America. If you can find pride in our country, that’s wonderful. But my hopes are low and my spirits are lower.

Character illustration of people with vote iconsThat being said, I’ll still be voting. The Democratic primaries are beginning their elections, and we have to go vote to keep hope alive. The 14 states voting today are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.* I’ll be voting in Arizona on March 17th, along with Florida, Illinois, and Ohio. March holds voting dates on the 10th and 24th as well for roughly 7 other states. 10 more states will be voting in April, 6 in May, and 5 more in June.*

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To stay informed, see what’s on your ballot, or to find your polling place, you can visit Ballotpedia.org rockthevote.org  , or vote411.org .

Happy voting.
Thanks for reading.
*The 14 states voting today, 
According to the Wall Street Journal

*Other state voting information provided by 
The National Conference of State Legislatures

The Last Black Unicorn & She Ready by Tiffany Haddish

 

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While in between TV shows to binge watch, I decided to open up my Audible app and see what was in my library waiting for me to listen to. I had downloaded both of the titles available by Tiffany Haddish: The Last Black Unicorn and She Ready. I had heard amazing things about her book, and I’m a huge fan of hers overall.

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The Last Black Unicorn is something that everyone should be reading and listening to. Tiffany’s life was ROUGH, and yet she manages to tell her story in a way that made me really laugh. After listening to that, I opened up She Ready – which was noticeably shorter in length than The Last Black Unicorn. I honestly wish I hadn’t downloaded She Ready without more knowledge, because it was really just a stand-up version of a lot of the stories that were showcased in her book. I do love her stand-up, it was just repetitive after listening to her first book. I HIGHLY recommend downloading The Last Black Unicorn, but you can skip She Ready if you do.

Like I said, Timg_9163iffany had a really rough upbringing. I can’t even believe half of the things she’s been through and was able to overcome. Between her mom’s mental illness, her time in foster care, and the amount of men who tried to take advantage of her – she’s dealt with some shit. The most appalling story Tiffany mentioned in the book involves her step-dad and several life insurance policies. My jaw basically dropped to the floor. 

haddishShe was able to get through it all by being not only funny, but also extremely clever. Tiffany is also very willing to make mistakes, figure it out, and then talk about it. She’s one of the realest people that there are in Hollywood. Tiffany is so raw, authentic, honest and absolutely hilarious.

Tiffany Haddish Comedy Special 2019I have so much love for Tiffany because of who she is, her amazing talent, and everything she’s been through. Even past her upbringing, she was able to battle being a female in comedy with so much grace. She did not let people take advantage of her success and abilities and did not pay prices that others may have paid to make it to the top.

hadThe only other book that I had listened to at this point via Audible was Lamar Odom‘s book, which was not read in his own voice. (A coach or something read the text instead). It was honestly a lot better to listen to this in Tiffany’s voice. First off, because she’s hilarious and charismatic. But also because she is connected to the story, because it’s hers. There are times she is scoffing along with the ridiculousness and times she’s audibly holding back tears. It really adds another level of consuming the text when you hear it all straight from the author’s voice.

tiffanyTiffany was actually nominated for a Grammy in the spoken word category for her reading of The Last Black Unicorn – so I promise that it’s worth the hype!

The Last Black Unicorm is available now on audible and wherever fine books are sold. You can also follow Tiffany Haddish on social media @tiffanyhaddish.

Thanks for reading!

Tucson Gem Show 2020

Every year in Tucson, there is a giant gem, mineral, and jewelry convention that takes place for about 3 weeks in February. This year’s gem show just ended, and it was the first time i got to attend. I knew the Tucson Gem Show was a big deal, but I didn’t realize how huge this convention would be. People traveled to Tucson from all over the country, and many events took place all over the city. The events started on January 31st and just ended on Februrary 16th.

I attended a few different expos and spend so much money. The best places to go were in downtown Tucson and included thousands of vendors. The first weekend we went to the Red Lion’s Inn, where the entire place was rented out to vendors and their tents and displays spilled out all over the parking lots. The other place we went was the 22nd street show, which was set up more fairgrounds-style.

I love crystals and stones, so I was super happy to stumble upon some great finds. I got citrine, amethyst, black quartz, and so many more types of crystals. I also got chakra stones, ammoshite fossils, sage and incense, and a ring made of orange Mexican oyster shell. I was most excited to find modavite, because that particular stone makes a common appearance in my favorite podcast. Among many other purchases, I also was excited to find a box made out of crystal to keep jewelry or other items in. I got some gifts for upcoming birthdays and such as well. 

Again, the events happens every year in February all over Tucson. Next year’s show should begin on January 30th, 2021. Here are some of my favorite pics from this year’s show:

Thanks for reading!

Podcast Favorites #7

podcastIf I’m being honest, I haven’t been as invested in podcasts lately as I used to be. I took a break for a smidge when I was going through my Kardashian deep dive, which took quite a while. I’m behind on almost all of the podcasts I listen to, and it will probably take me a bit to catch myself up. But I am starting to get back into my love of podcasts and favorite shows (#1#2#3#4, #5, #6). Here’s some updates and new podcasts on my list:

 

SPOTLIGHT:

downloadDying For Sex: This is the podcast that brought me back to my love of listening. I’m truly inspired and excited by Molly’s experiences. This is a beautiful story that focuses on a woman who was given a terminal cancer diagnosis. She decides to leave an unhappy marriage and start a journey of sexual escapades. The podcast tells her crazy stories as well as the process of accepting her diagnosis and how she dealt with all the emotions as well. It’s a wild ride that I can’t wait to continue as new episodes are released each week.

PATREON:

SSTWR kishtraight Talk with Ross – Kish Kish Club: We all know that I’m Ross Mathews‘ #1 fan and that I’m obsessed with this podcast. So when they recently released a patreon stream with bonus content for less than $7, my membership into the Kish Kish Club was mandatory! Each host of the podcast has their own segment, including Nikki B Life Coach, All The Feels with Cjay, and so much more. There’s also a very good chance that my voicemails make an appearance soon as well. I love having more of STWR -in my life. Also, don’t forget to check out Ross’ new book, Name Drop! REALLY PHENOMENAL WORK.

cbc

Commends By Celebs – Comments from the Couch: This podcast is one that I try to never fall behind on, because I love staying up to date on pop culture by having Emma and Julie break it all down for me. The Kardashian deep dives are of course my absolutely favorite! But I became a patreon of CBC for all the deep dives that are included in the bonus content. Even in addition to the regular episodes that I love, I also get a visual guide through patreon and links to more of the top stories and posts as well. There’s multiple tiers and though I didn’t join the top one, I’ve gotten lots of fun insight into the world and history of celebs. 

NEW PODCASTS:

nickIn Bed with Nick and Megan: I do absolutely adore Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally; they are such a fun couple and I’m always excited to tune into whatever they are up to. While they do add a fun element to this podcast by recording with their guests in their bed, it’s not a whole lot different from other podcasts where celebrities interview other celebrities. It’s pretty standard in that category of celebs interviewing their celeb friends, but again, I do love Nick and Megan so I couldn’t help but subscribe to this one.

cover-image-k0yf970d-dwts__logosDancing With The Stars Official PodcastDancing with the Stars  is one of my favorite shows of all time, so I love having this recap podcast available now! Kym Herjavec (previously Kym Johnson), former professional dancer on DWTS is the host, and she goes behind the scenes with the stars and their pros. We get more interviews, fresh off the floor reactions, and inside information. Kym keep everything light and fun and allows us to connect even more with the contestants. The episodes correspond with the latest season of DWTS, and I hope that this continues with the next season this fall.

OTHER:

odysseyThe Odyssey Storytelling Podcast: I started listening to this podcast after my own storytelling event was featured for the hindsight show. There’s all the recordings of the other shows as well as old stories from their archives. The shows for Odyssey happen the first Thursday of every month, and the recordings are uploaded by the end of the month. In between has the archived stories, which are very quick and short episodes. There’s for sure a variety of great things to explore here.

 

Honestly, there are so many podcasts out in the world these days! I might be at full capacity at this point.

Thanks for reading.

Name Drop by Ross Mathews

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I’m sure you know by now how much I love Ross Mathews – I mean, we’re basically friends at this point! We email, I’m involved in the podcast somewhat, and we’re always interacting on social media. So of course, the second that Ross announced that his new book, Name Drop, was available for pre-order, I immediately reserved my copy.

Name Drop img_5772 is a collection of the “really good celebrities stories” that he “usually only tells at happy hour.” I had to wait about 6 months for the release, but luckily for me, Ross did an exclusive reading at a DragCon panel. He read the first chapter of the book, which was about his incredible interaction with Lady Gaga. It was so awesome to see him do the reading, and it made me super excited to read the whole thing.

img_8916The stories in the book include interactions with big names, such as Rosie O’Donnell, Christina Aguilera, The Spice Girls and sooo much more! He truly did not disappoint – these stories were amazing.  They were short, sweet, but packed full of the gossip you’re looking for. Plus, Ross makes everything fun! So not only is there the collection of stories, but he also includes original cocktails and “ROSSipes” with each chapter.

Here are some of the thoughts I had while reading the book (you may have to read it all for yourself to understand fully what I am talking about):

  • Barbara Walters … what a bitch! Not just off camera – ON CAMERA! This had me HEATED!!!
  • Sherry Shepherd and her wigs!! What a woman – this warmed my heart.
  • Cannot wait to make Twice Baked Cutie Potatoes. YUM.
  • Sarah Colonna!!! I miss the days of her and Josh Wolf’s podcast. Did you know she’s on Shameless??
  • Gotta love the Spice Girls!!
  • A PIZZA OVEN?! A PIZZA OVEN!!!!! HOW DID YOU EVEN TRANSPORT THAT?! WHERE IS THIS PIZZA OVEN TODAY?? I have so many more questions. I can’t let this go.
  • “Hi folks!” – my favorite Celine Dion quote.
  • So how can I use my small friendship with Ross to get on Big Brother
  • Woah. I’ll never look at Mathew Perry and Matt LeBlanc the same. Friends is one of my absolute favorite shows, but damn. What assholes. I even watched the interview and cringed the whole time. I really lost respect there.
  • Long live the Divas. Especially Xtina.
  • Ross, you are absolutely invited to my fantasy celebrity dinner party.

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Seriously, take a minute to google Ross Mathews right now and see how much press coverage this book got – there are tons of articles written about his stories! You are not going to want to miss this!

Ross is also going on tour to 30 cities across the US and Canada! He’s got great shows planned with some stand up, games, and insight into some gossip. I’ll be attending The Phoenix show in March – as a VIP, of course! You can visit HelloRoss.com for tour dates or to grab your copy of his book! You can buy Name Drop really anywhere that books are sold – but the Target versions include an extra bonus chapter (which I have not read yet since I pre-ordered my copy on Amazon).

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I truly smiled from ear to ear while reading this book. It was seriously next level good. I mean, I read a ton of books by celebrities – but this was in a class of its own. If you only read one book this year, make it Name Drop by Ross Mathews.

Thanks for reading!

Head2Toe Soaps

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My girlfriend got a soap making kit for her birthday, and it’s led to a mini business venture for us. The kit came with a goat soap base and some natural exfoliants to add, such as rose buds and chamomile. Vanessa also had several different essential oils to create a variety of fragrances, so our first batch came out really well! We sent some to her family and friends to test, and we quickly learned that people would gladly pay for these soaps. So, we decided to sell the next batch! We added in a new 72b4ddf5-0f01-4327-af3e-5693da9fb099honey soap base as well, which was a big hit. We pretty much sold them all in a matter of days, and we learned to get some marketing and business materials together.

Our most recent batch turned out awesome. We had gotten some new ideas from DIY/craft resources to add in some natural exfoliants that we could find around the house, such as coffee and Himalayan salt. We also added new essential oils that included male and unisex fragrances (because the first batch was pretty feminine overall).

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We now have our original soaps – though we are using a shea butter base moving forward, because this is vegan friendly. The natural exfoliants include rose buds, rose petals, chamomile, marigold, jasmine, and ultra blue lavender. Soothing fragrances include eucalyptus, lavender, rose, tea tree, and lemongrass. I’ve used these myself, and they are awesome. We also have other exfoliants and fragrances to use for future batches (such as peppermint and orange), because we are hoping to create many unique varieties.

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To make sure we were as inclusive as possible, our honey batch was geared towards a more gender neutral audience. Most of the fragrances are unisex, but we also have two male scents included as well. These include cedarwood and frankincense for men, along with sandalwood, patchouli, juniper berry and litsea cubeca that are unisex. The honey base is extremely moisturizing, and we added some Himalayan salt for extra exfoliating.

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We also used the vegan shea butter base to create coffee and cinnamon soap – both of which are natural exfoliants and smell amazing. This is also unisex and full of tons of vitamins that are great for moisturizing skin.

All soaps are handmade, and we are excited to try out new ideas, materials, and methods in the future. Generally, soaps cost $5 each for those local to the Tucson area (or 2 for $8), but we are also able to ship any soap for $10 each (or 2 for $15).img_8728

You can find all our soaps on Instagram @head2toe_soap, where I update the availability daily. You can also buy them directly on Etsy at head2toesoap.etsy.com. Feel free to reach out to Vanessa or myself in any way for more information, questions, or requests.

Thanks for reading!

The Shining by Stephen King

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I know, I know – I’m really late to the game here. But I want to make my way through a few classic novels this year – including Stephen King’s The Shining. Both my girlfriend and my mom are avid Stephen King readers, and I had no experience with his work at all. After watching the new IT movies, I decided to finally start reading The Shining.

200 pages into the book, and I was not super happy. In my opinion, there was way too much set up. It took til almost page 250 until they were left alone in the hotel. Instead of any scary or thrilling events, we heard the same back stories from multiple perspectives and got multiple tours of the hotel. Things got better once I got past the lengthy exposition.

By the time I finished the book – I mean, yeah, it was scary. But I was definitely expecting it to be way scarier. I think it was hyped book in freezerup too much in my head. I remember the Friends episode where Joey puts the book in the freezer when it gets too scary – and I really wanted to have that reaction! So honestly, I was a little disappointed. Even though I had never seen the movie, I knew some references – such as the camera work with the tricycle or the girls who talk in unison. However, these were pretty much missing entirely from the book. Maybe this was a decision to add some scary content to the movie? I was definitely hoping it would be a little scarier to see it all come to life. I also knew the ending to the movie is different than the book, which made me more intrigued and added a level of suspense.

s-l300The movie. Holy 70’s! Very very vintage, and clearly made 30 years ago. I totally think this movie would kill if they were to remake this. I do think that the fact that this is now an older movie made some things less scary and more funny for me (especially the acting). However, Jack Nicholson is creepy all the time, even when he’s not trying to be. Can I also just say that like.. okay, I know this was a different time period. But the casual use of the N word in both the book and the movie made me wildly uncomfortable. Again, I know it was a different time.. doesn’t make me feel any less weird about it.

The book and the movie had a lot of differences actually, especially in the plot. I was disappointed to see such an awkward interaction The-Shining-Dannybetween Danny and Mr. Hallorann in the movie, because in the book they were very friendly. The awkwardness doesn’t really explain why Mr. Hallorann was so hell bent on trying to protect him, but their friendship did. Also, the hedges were completely different – which was one of the scariest parts of the book for me! My biggest disappointment was the casting for Wendy. The actress looked like the real life version of a character from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’m pretty sure Wendy was blonde in the book, and I don’t know – she just really didn’t look at all what I was picturing. She and Jack made a super odd couple, and I spent more time laughing at her than I was hoping for her escape.

Overall, I’m glad I read and watched this. The story is cool; I can see why this is a classic. Next up, watching the new Doctor Sleep movie.

Thanks for reading.

Guided Journals

img_8935I’ve been using these guided journals for over a year now, that focus on doing one thing every day. I bought the first one for myself; it was actually a Christmas gift for someone else, but I wanted one too, so I bought two. The second was actually a gift that I received when I was moving. The first one is titled Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy, and the second is Do One Thing Every Day That Inspires You. These are from ROBIE LLC books, and I know they were available at Target at one point in time, but I’m sure you can find these and others Amazon as well.

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In 2019, I was really focused on getting to a place where I was truly happy with my life. I had big dreams to go somewhere new, meet new people, and open my heart up to new experiences. I decided on my move to Arizona in the very beginning of 2019, and decided that my goal was purely to get to a place where I was happy. Physically, mentally, emotionally, all of the above. That’s not to say that I was miserable or depressed – I just knew there was more out there for me.

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“Do one thing every day that makes you happy.” It’s not a crazy concept. Focusing on happiness is so important, and I was thankful to have this daily reminder. Not every single day and page in the journal was relevant to me, but I did always have something to be happy about or thankful for.

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Now that I’ve gotten to a place where I am really really happy, I’m focusing this year on my creativity. I have so many goals and aspirations for 2020, and it feels like there’s nothing in my way. I’m diving deep into my writing, getting back into some photography with my new Polaroid, and happy to take on any fun side project. My big focus for the year is to write the manuscript for a book, so I love having this daily reminder to keep myself inspired.

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Some days the journal has me do some writing; some days I get to doodle a little bit. But mostly, the journal keeps me focused. Life can get busy, but I don’t want my creativity to be hindered. Inspiration can come from lots of places – I just have to be willing to find it. And I have no trouble believing that I can complete all of my creative goals this year.

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I definitely recommend having some sort of a daily reminder to push you in the direction you want to go. Maybe it’s a journal of happiness or inspiration, or maybe it’s something different. Whatever works for you, get something daily that reminds you of your goals. Then, don’t be afraid to go after exactly what you want – whatever it is. Life is waiting for you.

Thanks for reading.

Odyssey Storytelling

img_8566Odyssey Storytelling brings together people of all aspects of life to connect through sharing stories. This community showcases monthly events, where several storytellers share their experiences to an audience through story. Each show has a theme, and is held in downtown Tucson at The Sea Of Glass Center for the Arts. I got to participate in the January show as one of the storytellers!

We got to write our own bios, which were all posted online and included in the programs: “Gina Finio is 27 years old and originally from the Philadelphia, PA area. She graduated from a PA university that you’ve probably never heard of and has worked in Human Resources ever since. img_8569She turned her love for cactus into a cross-country move this summer, relocating from Allentown, PA to Tucson. Her dog Ducky is the most important thing in her life and is also her longest lasting relationship. Her hobbies include binge watching or auditioning for reality television, finishing jigsaw puzzles with her girlfriend and then putting it back in the box like a savage, and spending way too much money on crop tops that she will never stop wearing no matter how old she gets. Follow her weird life on social media @ginafinio or read her blog if you feel like it at www.ginafinio.com.” If you’re interested in reading the bios of my fellow storytellers, the picture to the left should show everyone from the show.

The theme of the night was Hindsight: “Stories from the shoulda – coulda – woulda club. They say hindsight is 20/20. If you knew then what you know now . . . how would your life be different? Would you make the same choices or would you take a different path? Are our lives predetermined by fate or do we exercise free will? Or, is it some odd combination of the two?”

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The story that I told was basically my coming out story, which honestly is one that I’m not a big fan of. I didn’t have a bad experience or anything, but if I could go back and do things differently, I certainly would. It’s not about the act of actually coming out, but more the way that I did it. Hindsight has allowed me to recognize this now, which is basically what my story was about. It was also something that I was holding onto in a way that I didn’t like, and by being able to joke about it, I was able to find some closure.

The energy that I felt coming off of the stage was like nothing I’ve ever experienced! It was a lot of highs, and I was truly really proud of myself. People kept coming up to me after the show, saying that they could relate in someway – which was incredible! Whether it was through myself or a family member type of figure – it was crazy to see people feel so connected to my experience. The crowd was amazing, extremely open, diverse, and accepting.

I hope to be able to do another story sometime soon, but I want to make sure it’s something I hold just as close to my heart is this one. I don’t want to tell a story just for the sake of telling it; I want it to be really meaningful. But I DEFINITELY would like to do it again.odyssey

You can listen to all the stories from the Hindsight show via The Odyssey Storytelling Podcast. The recording was released on Friday, January 31st: January 2020: Hindsight. My story begins around minute 47:47. You can also find more information for Odyssey Storytelling and their upcoming events by visiting OdysseyStorytelling.com.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

5 Goals I Have For 2020

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Happy new year and new decade everyone! It’s the roaring twenties and everyone is looking for a fresh start. Sorry to be one of those “resolutions” people, but I believe in checking in with yourself and going after what you want. Last year, I made some goals to relocate myself and find happiness, and I’m happy to report that I did just that. While last year was mainly focused on my happiness, I’m able to focus this year on my inspiration. Here are some goals I’m looking forward to achieving this year:

 

  1. Last year, I made the goal to read one book per month, totaling twelve for the entire year. I’m excited to announce that I surpassed that goal last year, and hope to meet it again this year. I have plenty of books on my ‘to read’ list, including Michelle Obama’s Becoming, Ross Mathew’s new book Name Drop, as well as some classics like The Shining and The Divinci Code.
  2. I want to do more writing this year. I want to keep up with this blog, continuing to write one post per week. However, I’m hoping to complete a manuscript for a book this year. It’s currently in the early early early stages, but at least I’m off to a start.
  3. I’m focusing on positivity this year, and ensuring that I am not wasting any of my time doing anything that I don’t want to do. I know it sounds cliche to say something like “positive vibes only this year” – but I’m not allowing myself to be in situations in which I am uncomfortable or unhappy. I am not going to give my time to anything that does not serve me in some way. I do not want to navigate through negativity, but rather remove it as much as possible. Sorry to be vague, but there’s honestly a lot of layers to this one.
  4. I wish so badly that I could say my finances were in a good place, but I spent a lot of money last year that I haven’t been able to save back. Moving wasn’t cheap, Christmas always puts a dent on my credit cards, and saving takes time. I’m really going to make saving money a priority this year, and I’m hoping that this is no longer a stresser for me this time next year. I have a hard time saying “no” to experiences regardless of the cost, but I can for sure start to make some smarter decisions without jeopardizing what’s important for me.
  5. There’s a ton of things in the world that I wish I could change, and I think it’s time for me to start getting involved. I have no idea exactly what this looks like just yet, but I’m interested in getting myself into human rights in some way. I’m not sure if this is going to be through a volunteer opportunity or how I’m going to move forward in this area, but I still want to make this a priority. There’s so much bad in the world, so I want to figure out how I can help to make it a better place.

 

2020

Each year is a gift! Take the opportunity to reflect with yourself on what you really want out of life. Then head out there and go get it!

Thanks for reading!

Books I Read In 2019

img_7960I made a goal last year to read one book per month for all of 2019. I am extremely happy to announce that I have met that goal – I actually surpassed it!! One of my new year’s resolutions actually was met, and I’m very proud. Here is a list of all the books I made my way through in the past year:

JanuaryMan Up! By Ross Mathews

February It Takes Balls By Josh Wolf

MarchThe Glass Castle By Jeannette Walls

AprilAre You There God? It’s Me, Margaret By Judy Blume

MayA Wrinkle In Time By Madeleine L’Engle

JuneOrange Is The New Black By Piper Kerman

JulyOut Of Orange By Cleary Waters

AugustKaramo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing and Hope by Karamo Brown

SeptemberDiva Rules By Michelle Visage

OctoberRunning With Scissors By Augusten Burroughs

NovemberOver The Top By Jonathan Van Ness

DecemberNaturally Tan by Tan France

Other Books I Read:

Desert Southwest (WildSam Field Guide)

Flipping The Switch By John G Miller

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

Darkness To Light by Lamar Odom

Selfish by Kim Kardashian

Antoni In The Kitchen by Antoni Porowski

Queer Eye: Love Yourself. Love Your Life.

bookI have complete and full intentions to achieve this goal again next year, as well as maybe even start to work on doing some more writing of my own. I have so many things on my “to read” list, so I know I’ll be keeping myself busy.

Thanks for reading!

The Complete Queer Eye Book Collection

I’ve done lots of reading this year, which led me into a deep dive into the works of my five favorite guys. You can catch them on Netflix’s Queer Eye: Jonathan Van Ness, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, and Bobby Berk.

My breakdown for the first three books can be found by clicking the links below:

img_79241. Over The Top by Jonathan Van Ness

IMG-66542. Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing and Hope by Karamo Brown

img_79733. Naturally Tan by Tan France

img_86264. Antoni has a cookbook rather than a novel, called Antoni In The Kitchen.

There’s an intro in the beginning where we get to learn more about Antoni and where he drew his inspirations for food. He grew up in Montreal with two Polish parents, and experienced a variety of culture growing up. He also mentions Queer Eye of course, which includes a forward from original “food and wine” expert, Ted Allen. I also love that Antoni mentions his sexuality, because he felt insecure about being on a show starring gay men when he is really more on the spectrum of sexuality.

img_8628Though Antoni comes from Polish decent, the book is not overloaded with Polish recipes. It’s actually a lovely cultural mix of Polish, Italian, Middle Eastern, Moroccan, Aussie, American, and so much more. Every recipe is included with a paragraph of Antoni explaining the dish and why he loves it, as well as some anecdotes, tips, and detailed instructions. I also appreciate that every recipe comes with a picture, because I don’t understand recipe books that don’t show you what you’re supposed to be making. This is loaded of pictures of both food and Antoni for you to drool over. Once I make some of these dishes for myself, I’ll be sure to review.

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5. Queer Eye: Love Yourself. Love Your Life  

Bobby is way too busy renovating the houses of America to have the downtime to write a book about himself – I mean seriously, do they let him sleep?? He is, however, credited in the book that brings the Fab Five all together: Queer Eye: Love Yourself. Love Your Life. This book is a whole breakdown of everything Queer Eye (the new Fab Five). The producers of the show talk about their ideas for both the original and the reboot; The word “queer” used to have a negative connotation, and I think we can credit these shows in part for the taking back of that word completely. It’s now an empowering word that I love using to describe myself. Thanks, queens!

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I enjoyed reading about Bobby’s unique upbringing, since he was the one I knew the least about. A lot of the info on the other men I already knew from reading their individual books, so it was nice for me to see Bobby’s backgrounds included. I’ll also say that I’m just not sure about this mustache phase that Antoni was going through here – very Johnny Depp meets James Franco; it’s a whole look.

It’s a great coffee table book, but it’s also completely packed full of content. There’s so much to page through: bios of the guys, deep dives into each of their specialties, and a whole Queer Eye recipe section with dinner menu recommendations. If these guys have already found their way to your heart, this book will make you happy.

 

All books are available on Amazon or other places where books are sold!

Thanks for reading.

New Tattoos (part two)

Well, I’ve gotten some new ink. My tattoo total is up to 12 now, but of course I’m far from done. I absolutely love the tattoos I’ve gotten in the past month or two, so I had to share:

 

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1. Mountains: A while ago, my sister got a tattoo of a simple line in the shape of a wave (similar to those wave rings you’ve probably seen on Instagram). I really liked the look and placement, although the beach and ocean does not mean the same to me as it does for my sister. Instead I took her inspiration and turned it into a mountainscape. I’ve always been drawn to mountains, and it’s part of the reason that I loved Tucson so much. Living in a town where you’re surrounded by beautiful mountains has been amazing, and I hope to always have a good mountain view in my life.

 

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2. That’s Amore: When my sister turned 18, I went with her to a parlor to purchase her first tattoo. We actually got coordinating tatts, where she has a lock and I have the key. When our cousin turned 18 this year, my sister extended the tradition down. Growing up, my cousin and my grams would sing the song “That’s Amore” before my cousin was fully able to read. Instead, Grams drew pictures for the moon, sky, a pizza pie, and then wrote the words “that’s amore”. My cousin, my sister and I all got the lyrics “that’s amore” in my grams’ handwriting, and it turned out absolutely adorable on everyone. Since my sister and cousin are on the east coast and I’m out in AZ, I wasn’t able to get tatted with them, but the sentiment still stands.

 

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3. Rainbow Dots: I’ve wanted something “gay” related for a long time, but I wasn’t ready to get a full on rainbow tattooed on myself. I thought about maybe just “BI” or something else subtle, but couldn’t find anything that I loved. My friend then sent me a tattoo she found on Instagram that had a line of dots in rainbow colors. It was so simple and beautiful, and I also loved the nod to R.O.Y.G.B.I.V. from my art days. This tattoos is so elegant and discrete, yet creative and unique and I absolutely am obsessed with it.

 

As always, more tattoos to come I’m sure!

Thanks for reading.

Naturally Tan by Tan France

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Since I already made my way through the books by Karamo and JVN, I figured I had to dive into Tanny’s book as well: Naturally Tan. Known as the style expert, Tan France has been changing the world via Queer Eye once French tuck and floral shirt at a time. His level of sass and pettiness is undeniable and also warranted and evident in the pages of this book.

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Tan has lived such an interesting life from day one. His family is from Pakistan, he grew up in the UK, but spent time in many different places. He’s an entrepreneur that works hard and makes things happen. He’s been thrown so much in life and yet has always maintained this essence of himself that shines so bright for everyone to see. I also feel that he really opened my eyes to a culture that I had not a lot of knowledge on prior, and I am thankful to know more as a result of Tan.

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First of all, it should not go unnoticed that there is an incredible amount of racism that people who look like Tan are forced to experience. His chapter about 9/11 is short but really powerful. I could never imagine what someone like Tan goes through, and I did not even understand the amount of airport privilege I have. It’s so cruel the way people can judge based on absolutely nothing but lack of knowledge. Americans are simply uneducated about so many cultures, which could be the cause of the racism.

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I absolutely love the relationship between Tan and his husband, Rob. The level of respect and love that exists between them is wonderful. I agree with so much that he says about relationships and marriage, that your normal state should not be “hard”. You should not feel like you need to “get away” from who should be your favorite person. Love should be easy, and sure there are obstacles, but it should enhance your life. My favorite parts of the book involved Tan talking about Rob, and the life they share together is amazing and inspiring. 

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Honestly, Tan is a sassy queen who can hold a grudge and lives for an “I told you so” moment. He really showed the unapologetic version of himself, which honestly kind of confused me. There’s so many kind things shown of him on the show that are gentle and compassionate, but he really sounded bitter in many moments of this book. I’m just surprised that he chose to showcase so much of this side of himself, because I know the softer side is in there.

tanReal quick: Tan, hunny. I really do love you. But your views on hair are wrong. Bangs look good on the right person, red dyed hair is bomb with the right skin tone, and it’s fine to play with the length and texture of your hair. I enjoyed going through your hair journey with you Tanny Bananny, but it’s even more of a reason not to trust your advice. Leave the female hair advice to the females, babe.

naturally tanI really did enjoy Tan’s book and the unique insights it provided. I loved that the book is written with short, anecdotal chapters that are super easy to flip through. Please watch Tan on Queer Eye for all your style needs, and you can also follow him on social media @tanfrance. Naturally Tan can be found wherever the finest of books are sold.

Thanks for reading!

Why I Keep Up With The Kardashians

KUTWK LogoYou might like them. You might love them. You might hate them. Regardless, you know who they are. There’s no denying that every person in America knows the name “Kardashian”. So why are they famous? Well that starts with their father, Robert Kardashian, who was close friends with OJ and Nicole Brown Simpson. Robert’s ex-wife, Kris Jenner, was best friends with Nicole, and all of them were wrapped up in the press after Nicole’s murder in 1994. Robert famously worked on the defense side for OJ, who was on trial for the murder, which caused obvious turmoil with Kris Jenner. (I recommend watching The People vs. OJ Simpson on Netflix to watch that whole mess of a story unfold.) The drama put the family on the map in LA, but not yet the rest of the country. Robert and Kris’ daughter, Kim, then started to get a name for herself in Hollywood as the assistant for Paris Hilton. When her infamous sex tape with then boyfriend and rapper Ray J was released to the public, the iconic Kim K was born.

The Kardashians as a family rose to fame on their reality TV show that we all know, Keeping Up With The Kardashians. The world of reality TV encourages the opening up of your life to the entire world. The Kardashians have always done this, not just for a short k family photoperiod of time, but over the complete last decade and beyond. They have let us in to the ups, the downs, the inside jokes, and everything in between. Because this show has passed the test of time, who they are in terms of ‘reality stars’ has changed so immensely. When we think of reality TV today, we think of Bachelor Nation or someone on a random MTV dating show, but the Kardashians were a part of the originals. We’re talking the days of Paris and Nicole, the Osbourne’s, The Girls Next Door. This is a different level of reality TV, it has immortalized them, and as a result, their level of fame is unmatchable. They are absolute icons and household names, and some of the richest people in America. Fascination has grown with their fame over the years, and part of this is because they are so transparent with their lives. The public gets let into everything that happens to them, and we get invested. We understand the drama because we’ve been there for it all – even the small things feel big to us. We know this family, their personalities, their history, and we feel as though we understand them to the core. Because of this level of transparency, it also opens their lives up to criticism. People think that because we see so much, the public has the right to judge and form an opinion on everything they do and say. It’s one thing to ignore a troll on social media, but security has became a big issue as a result of their dynamics with the public. Flashing material items and fancy locations is what led to the Paris incident with Kim. Not to mention that Kendall’s house has had multiple break-ins, and both she and Kylie have had legitimate stalkers. Some may envy their lavish lifestyles, but there are pros and cons to consider for sure.

baby showerTo anyone who wants to hate on the Kardashians, it’s easy to point at their lives of luxury and say that they don’t contribute to any good in the world. But first, think about how many celebrities that fall under that category but do not get backlash because they do not live their lives as publicly as this family. Again, it’s easy to judge with the level of transparency. However, those who are true fans know that giving back has always been a regular part of their lives. Growing up, Robert Kardashian used to bring the kids to skid row to hand out items like blankets and hygiene products. As Kendall and Kylie grew up and had birthday parties, they would ask that instead of gifts for everyone to bring a donation to various charities throughout the years. Kim has been in the media for her activism, which is honestly not anything new for her. She has always been pro-gun reform, and has been always been outspoken about her stance on gun control. Even in the early episodes of KUWTK, Caitlyn pushed her guns onto her children, wanting them to take shooting lessons. Kim was openly uncomfortable with a gun being around her family and in the house. She also took her daughter, North, to March For Our Lives in D.C. and had a very real conversation with her during their visit about why gun control is necessary. Kanye always donates to causes that Kim is passionate for her birthday/Christmas gifts, which recently has included justice reform. Kim is has been fighting HARD for justice issues, including freeing Alice Johnson from an overly harsh sentence, and we should expect to see so much more of this from Kim as time goes on.

keeping up season oneBeing a superfan of the Kardashians, I started watching the entirety of the franchise, in order, including any and all spin-off shows. Let me just say, it was QUITE a journey. There is such a transition as time goes on and they become the icons they are today. In the early seasons, the show was light and silly, and as a result we got a lot of filler plot lines. It was common to see the siblings getting into K kidsfunny antics and pranks throughout the seasons. As time goes on, their lives get bigger, and we start to see huge events like the Met Gala and launches for their various lines. It’s also noteworthy that so much drama is now incorporated into the show, as their lives are anything but quiet. These things now take up so much KUWTK space, that now when we do get those filler plot lines, it ends up sounding strange or scripted because we’re just so used to the drama. But the silly antics is what they originally built the show on, it’s just developed so much over the years. Even the opening theme song has evolved – from the silly whistle song, to the pop music with the sliced pictures, to the nostalgic music with the flashing montage reel that really just fucks. me. up!

5 K sistersFor anyone who is interested in taking the deep dive into Kardashian universe, here is the list I followed to watch all of not only the Keeping Up episodes, but all the spin off and associated shows as well in order of occurrence:

 

Keeping Up With The Kardashians Season One
Keeping Up With The Kardashians Season Two
Keeping Up With The Kardashians Season Three
Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami Season One
Keeping Up With The Kardashians Season Four
Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami Season Two
Keeping Up With The Kardashians Season Five
Kourtney & Kim Take New York Season One
Khloe & Lamar Season One
Keeping Up With The Kardashians Season Six
Kourtney & Kim Take New York Season Two
Khloe & Lamar Season Two
Keeping Up With The Kardashians Season Seven
Kourtney & Kim Take Miami
Keeping Up With The Kardashians Season Eight
Kris (Talk show)
Keeping Up With The Kardashians Season Nine
Kourtney & Khloe Take The Hampton’s
Keeping Up With The Kardashians 
Season Ten
I Am Cait Season One
Dash Dolls
Keeping Up With The Kardashians Season Eleven
Kocktails With Khloe (Talk show)
I Am Cait Season Two
Keeping Up With The Kardashians Season Twelve
Rob & Chyna
Revenge Body With Khloe Season One
Keeping Up With The Kardashians Season Thirteen
Life Of Kyle
Keeping Up With The Kardashians Season Fourteen
Revenge Body With Khloe Season Two
Keeping Up With The Kardashians Season Fifteen
Keeping Up With The Kardashians Season Sixteen
Revenge Body With Khloe Season Three
The Real Blac Chyna
Keeping Up With The Kardashians Season Seventeen

 

So let’s get into each family member a little bit:

Kim

Kim: When Kim Kardashian first rose to fame, she was my least favorite; I constantly rolled my eyes at her. But my appreciation for Kim K has grown immensely over the years. She’s the mediator, the pusher, and the motivator. The family sometimes jokes that Kim is the reason they are all where they are today.. and they aren’t wrong. Kim is so natural in the public eye, and honestly a visual phenomenon. You also cannot deny how hard she works – jkim and kanyeuggling project after project after project. She has ‘broken the internet’ many times, and her relationships have always made headlines. It is notable, however, that Kim is the only Kardashian/Jenner who is currently married to the man that she has children with (sup, Kanye). She also has the most children, with four kids running around, two of which were born via surrogate. I really appreciate Kim for normalizing different ways to make a family, because surrogacy is more common than people may know. Kim’s growing family has never stopped her from success, launching KKW beauty, Skims, and studying for the California Bar exam pretty much all at once. Honestly, Kim is a boss, she is untouchable, and I love her.

KourtKourtney: Kourt is the oldest of the siblings, and the public (and me) has some mixed opinions on her. In the early seasons, she was my favorite because she seemed the most down to earth and authentic. I feel like Kourtney has really changed over the scott and kourtneyyears, and I definitely would no longer describe her that way. She jumps on the trends to be health conscious in a way that seems very phony. Kourtney also has attempted to brand herself as the “mom” (since she was the first one to have kids, 3 in total), but that has really gone out the window in recent years. Her relationship with Scott has been wildly up and down, and his recovery is actually very inspiring. Over the years, it’s easy to fall in love with Scott and fall out of love with Kourtney. Scott is such a character, and has been sort of grandfathered into the family, which I love. Kourtney is also notorious for being the one who cares the least about working, though she does run a lifestyle blog called “Poosh.” I’ve checked it out, but haven’t really found anything useful. Personally, I think Kourtney is still figuring her self out or in the middle of some kind of mid-life crisis.

KhloeKhloe: I’m not gonna lie, Khloe has always been my favorite. She’s gone through quite a transformation in her weight loss journey, but she really took a lot of slack for her look in the early seasons. It’s actually pretty sad the way she was spoken to, and I just hope that her glow up was for her and not her family or the media. She also helps others with weight loss on her show Revenge Body, where they actually get to work with her celebrity trainers. Khloe is the kind of girl that goes the hardest for her man, which makes it even more disappointing when they let her khloe and lamardown. She moved to Dallas for Lamar and Cleveland for Tristan – willing to sacrifice for those she loves and even relocate away from her family. Her struggles with Lamar are pretty heartbreaking, but I still like Lamar way more than I’ll ever like Tristan. Tristan’s betrayal with family friend Jordyn Woods was one of the biggest media frenzies that the Kardashians have experienced, and it was actually the second time there was headline news of Tristan’s infidelity (the first was when Khloe was 9 months pregnant with their child, True). Lamar has publicly acknowledged his mistakes, while Tristan continues to be, well, ridiculous and confusing in life and on social media. I do feel bad for Khloe for what she’s been through, but she’s for sure got the toughest skin in the family. On a positive note, she is usually the most fun, the best time, the funniest and the one that everyone loves the most. 

RobRob: Rob’s story, honestly, is pretty sad. Mostly because he’s clearly suffered from depression for a long time, and it very well could be as a result of the spotlight on him and his family. The level of media attention has proved to be unhealthy for him, as he already had struggles with self-identity, his career ventures, and his self-image. I also believe that losing his dad was the hardest on him in the long run, Rob&Chynaand it’s something he brings up often throughout the seasons of the shows. Rob has had issues with being publicized as he started to gain weight, and it made him isolate himself from both society and his family. There were years where he did not come on the show or even really leave the house – including missing his sister’s wedding (he flew to the location but after the tailoring, he flew back home and did not attend). It’s sadly obvious to see his confidence boost when he is in a relationship, but those relationships have been anything but healthy for him. His relationship with Blac Chyna was quite a wildly interesting roller-coaster that was fascinating to watch, but ultimately has hurt him a lot. He is currently fighting for custody of their daughter, Dream, and accusing Chyna of being unfit to care for her (rumors have surfaced of violence that has occurred in Dream’s presence). Rob was seen recently out with his sisters, so let’s hope that things start to look up for him. I’m rooting for you, Rob!

KrisKris: It’s been said that the devil works hard, but Kris Jenner works harder. Being the matriarch of this family is the identity of Kris, and being the most famous “momager” in the world. There’s always been rumors of Kris setting up some of the drama in the lives of her daughters, but who knows what truth there is to that. I will say, that Kris Jenner is an LA girl who would not accept any other lifestyle than one of luxury. She’s always been out for a big name and a big check, and hey, the girl got hers. Her first marriage to Robert Kardashian had already ended by the time of his illness and passing, and Kris was Balmain : Aftershow Party - Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2016remarried to Caitlyn Jenner. There was a lot of drama during Caitlyn’s transition, because Caitlyn really trashed Kris Jenner in her book. The transition really had nothing to do with their marital issues, and I honestly feel they are both much better without each other. Kris is currently dating Corey Gamble, who is actually the same age as Kim. Kris is a powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with, but I also find her annoying and ridiculous a lot of the time.

CaitlynCaitlyn: Caitlyn was known for the longest time as one of the greatest and decorated Olympic athletes of all time. Many people can recall the feeling of watching her win the gold and seeing her picture on Wheaties cereal boxes. However, she is now Brucemost known for her public transition from a man to a woman, even winning awards for her bravery and courage. Watching Caitlyn on early seasons of KUWTK prove to be extremely cringe-worthy. Her transition does not come until the later seasons, though there are definitely some clues along the way. Even still, it’s really strange to listen to the girls make jokes about Kris “owning his balls” and other things in similar regard. There was also a fight about hair during Kim’s wedding, because Kim wanted the ponytail to be cut off completely. It’s interesting to watch it all unravel, but like I said, cringe-worthy. Caitlyn also took the opportunity during the transition to speak negatively about some family members, which has put a divide between her and the rest of the family. Her show, I Am Cait, included many other trans women and was very informative about the experience overall. She was rumored to be dating 23 year old trans woman Sophia Hutchins (Caitlyn is 70), until recently some strange information came out in the media. I guess Sophia is just a live-in pet? I don’t know, it’s all very weird honestly.

KylieKylie: The billionaire. Kylie has always been in the spotlight from an early age, and you basically watch her grow up on KUWTK. She’s the most popular among the younger demographic in a mirrored way to the fascination that surrounded Kim in the beginning of her take-off. Kylie has always been passionate about make-up, and makes her billions through Kylie Cosmetics – most known for the lip kits. It’s noteworthy that she is the only sister that kept her pregnancy a complete a secret from the public, which could have been a decision based oKylie boyfriendsn the young age at which she became a mom. The father of her child is rapper Travis Scott, whom she dated after her long relationship with rapper Tyga (the girl has a type). The status of her and Travis’ relationship is pretty vague right now, though I don’t think they are together. Kylie and Kim joke that Kylie is “coming for Kim’s thrown”, and she recently has passed Kim in terms of social media followers. Kylie also gets some extreme scrutiny from the media as a result of her deep pockets and the lifestyle that comes with it. She’s only 22 years old, so it will be really interesting to see what the rest of her life looks like.

Kendall 1Kendall: Kendall has really made a name for herself in the world of modeling, and if you watch her in the early seasons you can see her passion from the very beginning. She’s absolutely stunning of course, and has Kendal 2the complete look of a model. She’s developed herself into one of the most notable and highest paid models in the industry, and is constantly traveling as a result. I believe she owns a house in LA, but spends most of her time in her apartment in NYC because of the fashion opportunities. She’s the only sibling without children, though I do believe she wants to have a family later in life. Kendall is one of the most sensitive of the sisters, which may also come as a result of growing up in the spotlight. Her dating life has been the least dramatic and arguably the most private, though she also experiences her share of rumors. For some reason, I think Kendall sometimes has a hard time figuring out where she fits into the family, as her fame seems different in some way. 

old k photoLike I said, the show has made a huge evolution over the years. Money has of course played a factor in this, not to mention their level of fame and celebrity. But also just the way their lives have developed has made the show what it is today. The transparency during their pregnancies, Caitlyn’s transition, break ups, betrayals, and all the other aspects of their lives has allowed for the show to continue on and on. And us fans, we get it. Because we were right there with them, and we are going to be there every step moving forward.

selfishOn another note – being a true and devoted Kardashian fan, I had to order Kim K’s selfie book, Selfish. It’s a wonderful coffee table book if you stan for the Kardashian clan and are obsessed with Kim in particular. She’s always been an avid selfier, and collaborated her pics over the years onto the glossy pages. The book is in order chronologically by year, which is fun to see young Kim before her baby hairs were all lasered off. Her family and sisters make cameos in the book along with her friends and other notable celebrities. She writes in her own notes and anecdotes on the pages along side the pictures, which was easily heard in Kim’s voice. The book is cute, it’s fun, and it can be found on Amazon. (I also made my own selfie post from my inspiration when rewatching the show a while back.)  Lamar made media headlines of his own last year when he released his book, Darkness To Light, which I listened to via Audible. I believe that both Khloe and Kris have written books, which I may look into adding to my “to read” list.

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Alright. So if you’re still reading this, then you’re either a fan of the Kardashians also or somehow I’ve managed to change your mind a little bit. Regardless of how you feel about them, you cannot deny that they are powerhouses in the world of celebrity and social media. For so many reasons, they are iconic, they are influencers, and they are legends. And they are not going away any time soon.

season 17You can watch all the episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians on Hulu, and a few of the spin-off shows can be found on Hulu as well – such as Life of Kyle, I am Cait, and Kourtney and Khloe Take the Hamptons. Rob and Chyna can be found on the NBC app, Blac Chyna’s new show, The Real Blac Chyna is hard to find but the first episode is at least on YouTube. Some of the other spin off shows are also available on YouTube or other off-sites such as dailymotion. The newest seasons of KUWTK are on E! and the E! app.  Also, I do HIGHLY recommend listening to the Comments By Celebs podcast, where they do a weekly Kardashian Bonus show and breakdown the newest episodes that are released.

Long live the Kardashians.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

300th Episode of Straight Talk with Ross

img_8071It shouldn’t be a secret that I’m obsessed with Ross Mathews and his podcast and really everything that he ever does. (See previous posts: here, here, here, here, here, and here.) I try to be as involved with the podcast as Ross will allow me to be, so when he asked for people to send things in for the 300th episode, I wrote a little song.

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I’m good with lyrics but not able to compose my own music of course, so I just changed the words to the well known song, Hallelujiah, which has been done by Jeff Buckley, Kate Voegel, and many others. I started by just changing certain words to line up with jokes from the show, and eventually ended up with two versus for the song:

Well I heard there was a jumbo jive,
We all play to feel alive
Cause you don’t really care for editing do ya?
Well it goes like this, the 300th,
Mark’s less than seven but pleads the fifth
While Chardonnay composes on the piano
Butch Ricky, Butch Ricky, Butch Ricky, Butch Ricky

Well JRod hates sauce but Ross needed proof,
Played a game that made him puke
Or maybe it was just from a freaky Fagsy
And CJay gets harassed by Blanch
While Nikki B’s songs are interupted
And it all stems from the first cold chicken finger
Butch Ricky, Butch Ricky, Butch Ricky, Butch Ricky

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I used a karaoke version of the song from YouTube, and just recorded myself singing the new lyrics with the voice memo app on my phone. Emailed it to Ross and then BAM! There is was on the podcast! I love timg_8075hat Ross basically knows me and who I am at this point, and that he is always listening to my voicemails and findings ways to incorporate me into the show. My goal is eventually to make it on as a guest, so fingers crossed!

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To listen to my silly song and hear me sing, find Straight Talk With Ross wherever you listen to podcasts, and go to the episode released on November 21st. It’s Episode 300– The Kiss Kiss Club. My song is played around minute 22:32. Or for the direct link, you can CLICK HERE .

Thanks for reading!

Darkness To Light by Lamar Odom

lamar odomI was right in the middle of my Kardashian deep dive when I heard Khloe talk about the fact that Lamar came out with a book about his life. Sign. Me. Up. Are you kidding?! I was such a huge fan of Khloe and Lamar when they were together, loved their show, and was really rooting for Lamar’s recovery. He was also recently on Dancing With The Stars and you bet your ass I threw a couple of votes his way.

My friend gave me a subscription to Audible as a birthday gift, knowing my love for reading. She thought it would be a cool and new way to listen to img_7963some of the words by my favorite celebs. Lamar’s book was available, read by Chris Palmer, former football coach and former college athletics administrator.

On Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Khloe talks with her best friend, Malika, about Lamar’s book that is being released and the press interviews he was doing to promote it. They show a clip where Lamar expresses remorse for how he “treated that queen” and admitted that apologies were owed. Malika asked Khloe if she would consider reading the book, to which Khloe playfully replied, “yeah, but I kinda already know how it ends.”

lamarLamar has been through a lot in his life, and I only knew about his struggles with addiction in his post NBA career. The book really highlighted for me how corrupt athletic systems can be even at a young level. Many of the young athletes are not even aware of the pay offs and shady dealings that are being done to get them their success, and it’s hard to have trust in who is looking out for the best interest. Not to mention that with professional sports comes money and access to things that can really fuck your life right up. Lamar’s life definitely didn’t start out easy as a result of his family, and it didn’t get any easier when all of those athlete affects starting coming into his life.

Lamar definitely dives into the shadows of his darkness, specifically surrounding his addiction with drugs and sex. He admits to heavy drug use as well as having sex with over 2,000 women in his lifetime. That is not a type – over two thousand women. Many of these sexual encounters were infidelity in his relationships; Lamar has children from his first love, but he also had a relationship with actress Taraj P Hensen – which I did not know. And then there was of course his marriage to Khloe Kardashian, whom he spoke highly of in the book. He actually spoke very respectfully about all the women he was with and may have caused lamar and khloharm to. He didn’t, however, speak so highly of mother-in-law Kris Jenner. Lamar actually accused her of calling the paparazzi for a publicity stunt when he was trying to reconnect with Khloe. There’s also quite a lot of bitterness surrounding how his hospital room was handled during his coma, during which he and Khloe were separated but still legally married. The media was insane, and the Kardashians were trying to keep control of the narrative during this time. I truly believe that Khloe was trying to do what was best for Lamar with the information that she had, even if some mistakes were made. Lamar does show gratefulness, but all has definitely not been forgotten.

Darkness to Light by Lamar OdomThe book get really deep and truthful, as Lamar admitted to his faults, his weaknesses, and his mistakes. There’s a lot of shit that’s been thrown at Lamar in his life, and yet he takes responsibility for the way he reacted. I think it’s so brave of him to share his story and his truth, and it was certainly worth the read. You can find this on Audible like I did, or wherever most books are sold.

Thanks for reading.

Over The Top by Jonathan Van Ness

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There has been A LOT of buzz around JVN’s new book! Of course I’ve been a huge fan of Jonathan Van Ness for a very long time, but I love how much media attention he’s been getting in the past year. Jonathan originally was known for his recap show Gay of Thrones, and then earned mainstream attention after becoming a member of Netflix’s Queer Eye‘s Fab Five. The book has made headlines this year because of the secrets that JVN opens up about in the book, and his bravery is insanely admirable.

In one of the episodes of Queer Eye, the Fab Five talk about coming out img_7955of the closet. Jonathan says something along the lines of, “Hello! The sky is blue. The grass is green.” meaning that there really was no “in the closet” for him. He was clearly and obviously flamboyant from a young age, and that left for a good amount of teasing while growing up. The story of his friend from the swim team is one that I’m sure many queer people can relate to: a friend where the lines get blurry and complicated… and then in the end.. awkward. It’s sad that there was so much shame in being gay in these small towns, because it can do a lot of damage.

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I really enjoyed reading about his reflections on past relationships. Speaking in the abstract makes everything so poetic and tragically beautiful. I could feel that when JVN talked about Sergei. They clearly cared so much about each other as humans, even if their demons constantly came between them. Their story hurt my heart, but the love was clear and present the whole journey. Who gave them permission to be so hauntingly gorgeous?!

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It was super exciting to see Jonathan go to Tucson for college! However, his experiences at the U of A were not entirely positive. He was clearly in a dark place at this point in his life, and he was searching for answers in some of the worst places. I appreciate his willingness to be open about his escort experience, which left him vulnerable and broken. I’m sure it was not easy for him to be honest about his behavior during this time, but I appreciated that he shared this in his writing. There are a lot of experiences within the male gay community that is swept under the rug, and JVN was able to bring some to light. During this time of darkness, he was luckily able to reach out to his family for the help he needed, and headed home to “start over”.

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Recovery, self-love, and mental health are things that JVN is always promoting, and it’s clearly as a result of his life experiences. His words on recovery are inspiring, and he is always reminding everyone to love themselves for where they are at. He says, “One thing I have come to notice in my life is that recovery for me has not been linear. It’s more two steps forward, three back, five forward, two back, so I’m always improving but there are setbacks within the improvement.”

I love Jonathan and every single itty bitty baby gorgeous thing he ever does, and I of course loved this book. But truthfully, I think he could have REALLY JVN 4dove into his dark places and gone even deeper. It definitely would take being EXTREMELY vulnerable to do this, as Jonathan as already revealed so so much in this book. Home girl has been through some shit! I just feel like there was so many stories and deep details that we didn’t get to hear, as he barely skimmed the surface of what he’s been through. He explains the the summary of the dark places, but I was so interested in his life of tricks and compulsivity, and so I definitely wanted a little more. Still, I totally know how hard that would be for JVN, who is very much connected to people worldwide with Queer Eye and his social media presence. I still absolutely applaud him for how much he did open up and reveal in the pages.

I love the way Jonathan combats the stigmas around HIV. This is such a significant conversation! Learning about being “undetectable” is so JVN 6incredibly important to educate people on the virus, and even I learned a lot from his writing. I’m so glad that JVN was recognized for this conversation in the media!! This really can help so many people to not only get the help they need, but also feel comfortable to live a full life while managing their diagnosis. It’s so wonderful that modern medicine can allow those who are diagnosed with HIV and AIDS to live a long lives. In the book, Jonathan mentions how his doctor said he would “go on to die of a heart attack or cancer just like everybody else.” – which is of course a morbid joke, but just shows where HIV is JVN 1in terms of a terminal diagnosis. 

 

 

Below are a list of resources provided by JVN in the book. Also, if you are a member of any community that may be high risk for HIV, please ask your doctor about PrEP, or visit the CDC website or What Is PrRP? or for more information.

Planned Parenthood
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
Phoenix House
The Trevor Project
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
Advocates for Youth
GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network)
Peer Health Exchange
ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

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He is fierce. He is real. He is raw. He gets into it, hunny! Jonathan gets sups vuln and you need to hear all the spilled tea. Grab your little baby copy wherever the finest of books are sold and come along for the gorgeous ride! Queer Eye is of course always available on Netflix – the Japan episodes were released not too long ago, and I know they were filming in Philly this summer!! JVN 2For all things JVN, you can visit jonathanvanness.com or follow him on social media @JVN.

“In general, if you can’t take me at my raw, heated moment, you don’t deserve me at my composed Emmys glam moment.” – Jonathan Van Ness, re-quoting Marilyn Monroe ♡

Thanks for reading!

VOTE! (The Off-Year)

Vote Nov. 5 - ColorDon’t think that off-year elections are important? Wrong! Every single election is extremely important and is an opportunity to exercise your right. Policy changes start at the local level, and you have to back the individuals who are working for what you believe in. Getting involved in every single election, even off-years, ensures that you have a say in those who are working not just in the White House, but in your state and city as well.

Vote Nov. 5 - ColorDon’t think your vote makes a difference in off-year elections? Wrong! This is the time when voter turnout is typically the lowest, raising the importance of each and every vote. In most major cities, fewer than 15% of the population show up to cast a ballot for mayor – and most are from one demographic. More voter turnout, especially in minority groups and young adults, can drastically change the results of the elections.

Vote Nov. 5 - ColorDon’t know what’s included on a ballet for an off-year election? No problem! There are so many resources that can help you learn what to expect when you go to vote. Ballotpedia.org prompts you to enter your address to see exactly what will be included with each election. You can also use sites such as rockthevote.org and vote411.org to educate yourself on who and what you would like to vote for. You can also use these sites to find your polling place, or other mail-in options as well.

Here in Tucson, I’m excited to be voting on a new FING VOTEmayor and councilmen. We will also be voting on sanctuary city status and pay raises for city officials.

See you at the polls!

Thanks for reading.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

img_7970I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, but I didn’t really dive into things once the 7th book and 8th movie concluded. My girlfriend, however, decided to do a Harry Potter deep dive recently, where she was rereading the books and we would watch the movie after she finished each one. She then started to look into the Fantastic Beast movies and other books and things associated with the Wizarding World. A package came one day with a Harry Potter book I had never seen before: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

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This story takes place right where the 7th book left off – 19 years later, and Harry’s children are going to Hogwarts. Ron and Hermione’s children are attending as well, and they must go through the sorting hat and deal with the regular childhood trauma of trying to fit in. Harry’s son befriends the son of Draco Malfoy, which is obviously problematic. Rumors and discovered magical artifacts lead them into a whirlwind of an adventure.

hpcc!! Disclaimer: this is not a novel. This story was actually developed into a play, and the book is a copy of the script. !! J.K. Rowling worked with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany to create this, and it exists only in script format. It’s relatively easy and quick to read as a result of the way it’s laid out, but it does not have the same feel as reading a true Harry Potter novel.

I have just a little bit of an issue with part of the plot.. it’s just a little bit of a stretch. Harry’s son wants to go back in time to save Cedric Diggory, but his desire to do this and reasoning hpbehind it is extremely random and forced. He’s angry at his father but this just seems like a strange way to act out. Perhaps if he was hoping to impress his father or earn his respect or affection I would understand, but that’s not how it was set it. It just seemed pushed in my opinion, but hey I mean what a win for Cedric!

hppThe plot certainly does not disappoint, and has lots of crazy twists and turns – in true J.K. Rowling fashion. I don’t want to give anything away, but there were definitely things that I did not see coming. It’s quite an adventure where we get to see how the wizarding world unfolded after the Battle of Hogwarts – in more than one reality. I’ve never seen the play, but the script was worth the read in book form. I believe you can find this on Amazon, but I am unsure if it’s available in all book stores, unfortunately.

Thanks for reading!

Movie Reviews Part 1

Well, it took me over a year, but I finally finished all the movies on my list from last fall! Just in case anyone was wondering what I thought, here are my reviews and feedback from each of the films:

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Bohemian Rhapsody: A+
As a Queen fan, I absolutely loved this movie. Rami Malek makes an amazing Freddie, as we explore his amazing life and talent. The music was exceptional of course, and the Live Aid performance is almost identical to the one from real life. Will watch again and again.

 

night schoolNight School: A
This was a hilarious feel-good movie that I would definitely watch again. It’s lighthearted and easy to watch, yet still relatable on a human level. I so appreciated that the story didn’t end up with Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish getting romantically together. At the one point I thought they might, she rolled her eyes with a “boy, I’m gay”. Yaasss girl!!

 

peppermintPeppermint: A-
I genuinely applaud not only Jennifer Garner for her acting in this film, but mostly her agents for getting her this role. I’m truly impressed, and she killed it. In general, I think Hollywood is shying away from making movies like this now, but this was a great action movie. Bullets flying, car chases, explosions, all layered on top of a good plot line. It was easy to get into this movie and it wasn’t as predictable as I was expecting it to be.

 

searchSearching: B+
The entirety of the movie takes place from the screen of a laptop, where we see the plot unveil through videos, messages, phone calls and more. It actually reminded me of an episode of Modern Family that takes place entirely on an iPad. The story was interesting enough to follow along, but the format of the film was what I liked the most.

 

the nunThe Nun: B
I’m definitely not an expert when it comes to scary movies, but I really enjoyed this one. It helped to see some familiar faces from AHS and Weeds as the main characters, but even without them, the movie overall was pretty good. It had plenty of parts that made me jump, but wasn’t just gruesome for no reason. The creepy factor was high, and it wasn’t overly predictable. But again, I’m definitely not an expert in this area.

 

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A Star Is Born: B-
The movie was wonderful, but was hyped up a little too much by the time I watched it. Everyone told me I was going to cry my eyes out, but I only shed roughly one tear instead. The best part was getting to see two of my favorite queens, Willam and Shangela, on screen in drag. Other than that, I mean yeah.. it was good I guess.

 

Next up, I’ll be making my way through the movies I listed from this summer.

Thanks for reading!

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

RWS2I remember reading this book sometime in high school and it being one of my favorites, and I recently reread it after discovering that a movie had been made based on the memoir. Running With Scissors – both the book by Augusten Burroughs and the movie starring Joseph Cross, Alec Baldwin, Gweneth Paltrow, Evan Rachel Wood and more – is a story worth paying attention to. The book highlights true events from Augusten ‘s childhood, where he was basically given away to his shrink, Dr. Finch, by his mentally unstable mother.

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The ridiculousness of the Finch family is what draws you in: from the Masterbatorium (it’s exactly what you think it is), to eating dog food as a casual snack, to the breastloons (balloons, one on each boob). These characters are incredibly fascinating and over the top. The house is always an absolute mess, there are no rules, and almost every relationship is inappropriate in some way. He writes so open and raw and I hang onto every word in every story. I love his level of extra and dramatics, the need for everything to be over the top and extravagant. I flew through the book even faster than I did the first time.

RWS 4Just watching the trailer for the movie had me already laughing. It seemed, at first glance, to ring very true to the book. When the Dr. was seen running down the hall to knock on everyone’s doors to wake them up, I knew immediately that was in regard to the toilet bowl readings. The RWS 5book is truly one of my favorites, so I was overly eager to see this eccentric cast come to life. The movie stays super true to the book throughout the entire movie, down to a lot of the dialogue between characters. It even shows Augusten dressing the dog up with tin foil – though young Augusten wasn’t the greatest child actor in the world.

RWS 6There was a scene in the book where the mom describes her openness in life by describing a friendship she had with a black girl growing up. In telling this story, she uses the N word to portray the way the world was at the time. I was wondering if this scene would be portrayed in the movie, and since it’s rated R, it sure was included. However, most of the sex scenes were taken out. Augusten describes his first sexual experience with 30+ year old Neil Bookman, and the visuals of walking in on his mother with the minister’s wife. These were largely skipped over on screen.

RWS 7Neil Bookman’s character was kinda exaggerated, I don’t recall him being quite unhinged in the way they created him in the movie. Though he was just as unstable as the rest of them, they really made him wig out on screen – including a dramatic scene where he brings a knife to Finch’s throat, who is lying in bed. That’s all Hollywood I guess. Aside from that, most of the movie was very accurate to the story and highly entertaining as well. 

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The book can be found wherever books are sold, and I highly recommend both the book and the movie. I was unable to find somewhere to watch the movie for free online, though it can be rented from Amazon Prime Video or YouTube for about $5, which is also what it cost me to just go ahead and buy the DVD.

Thanks for reading!

The Sandy Hook Promise

sh3As I’ve been watching different shows via apps on my phone while at my desk, I’ve seen a couple of impactful commercials regarding back to school safety. Because school shootings are such a relevant issue within America, there’s a lot more safety concerns for students than ever before. From elementary schools to college campuses, the fear of active shooters is real.

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The commercials featured different items that children received for back to school needs, while scenes of a school shooting play out in their surroundings. A skateboard is used to break a window to escape, and a young girl in hiding is able to text her mom from her new phone to say “I love you”. This truthfully doesn’t seem overly dramatic of actual events that have and could happen any day in the U.S. One of my coworker’s son’s school was closed last week due to a possible shooting threat. The fear is honestly real. To read 16 facts about gun violence and school shootings provided by the Sandy Hook Promise, click here 

 

The Sandy Hook Promise is a non-profit organization that is working to provide programs and practices that protect children and prevent more less. This is in an effort to honor all the victims of gun violence, as the organization was founded by families affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school that took place on December 14th, 2012. The Sandy Hook Promise is above-the-politics, focusing on the “human side” of the issues by building a movement of schools, families, and community organizations.

sh5They are building a national base, organizing at a community level, developing and delivering mental health and wellness programs, and advocating for state and federal policy. Through initiatives within school districts, students can feel more included, everyone can know the warnings signs, and schools can be more safe overall. For news and information on their efforts, click here or visit their website.

I don’t have kids, and I don’t plan on having kids, but that does not mean that I cannot get involved to help stop school shootings and other events of gun violence. Sandy Hook is working to end mass shootings, and I have signed their petition and promised to share their message as well. #ProtectOurKids

sh1You can find more information on their website at SandyHookPromise.org. Here you can review their plans, know the signs, and learn how to get involved. You can also help to share their message through social media and videos, and you can also sign the petition to take action. Donations can also be made, as every little bit helps make an impact in the real world.

Thanks for reading.

27th Birthday

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My birthday was October 1st, so I am officially 27!It’s really crazy to think about where my life was at even just a year ago. A LOT of things have changed for me – for the better! I’ve been reflecting on how different my life is and all the progress I’ve made to be living the happiest life possible.

Throughout all of my twenties, I definitely had a good sense of who I was. I’ve always been myself. but there was definitely a period of IMG-6240time where I was making some questionable decisions. I was trying to figure some things out for myself in my adult life, and I was exploring what it is that makes me happy. As a result of looking for certain answers, I found myself in several different situations and relationships that were not the healthiest.

This time last year, I had just gotten out of a very unhealthy relationship. I felt as though I had someone else’s world on IMG-6571my shoulders, and I was ten feet under water and drowning fast. I felt responsible for this person, but it was affecting my ability to be happy in so many areas of my life. Even though I was able to end this relationship this time last year, there was still a falling out after, which led to a difficult start to my 26th year. Sometimes, you have to learn that certain things truly belong in the past in order for you to move on and into a healthy head-space. (Support from family and friends definitely helps as well.)

I was also trying, at this time last year, to figure out how to be more open about my sexuality, which was very hindering when I was in a heterosexual relationship. I wanted to live authentically, but I felt held back in so many ways. I have been open IMG-7740with myself about my sexuality as well as those very close to me for many years, but this time last year I was not fully “out” to everyone in my life. I was able to find a way to really date the way I want to during my 26th year, and to create healthy dynamics from the beginning with anyone I spent time with. I was reminded that you can set your own parameters and create a positive space and mindset for yourself in really anything that you do. This journey to openness also included coming out to my family, which truthfully didn’t exactly go the way I really wanted it to in retrospect. But regardless of how I got here, I can now be completely living my truth at this point and not filtering my life for those around me. And that’s huge. 

Looking back at what my life was like over a year ago, I was being held back from all aspects – including my career. I had been considering transferring to a new office across IMG-5795the country since I had started this new job at the age of 25, but the idea originally put a lot of guilt on my shoulders. Once I was out of that relationship, I was able to see more clearly that I wasn’t physically in the place that I wanted to be. Around the new year, just three months into my 26th year, I started to put my plan into place. I talked to my work and my family about the move and by the end of June, I was in my new apartment and new office in Tucson. I really did love the time I spent in Allentown, but I felt that I had already gotten everything there that I needed to. I knew there was so much more out there for me than what I was surrounding myself with. Knowing there were things out there waiting for me, I got my ass out to Arizona.

As I started thinking about getting out of PA, there was so much toxic energy that I realized I would be leaving behind me. It felt good to move on from all the strange cactus picdynamics, situations, and toxicity that I hadn’t even realized was overwhelming me. I was involved in friendships and relationships that were not the healthiest for anyone involved, and the best thing I could do for everyone was leave it all behind and start new. And truthfully, it felt amazing!  There were things I was still holding onto, holding out for, dealing with, holding onto hope for, or even just involved in that weren’t good for me. It wasn’t making me happy in a good way, and it was nice to know I was putting a lot of that behind me with this move and allowing myself to actually grow without confines.

Coming to Arizona, I really felt that I was in a good mindset and free of things that had vanessapreviously held me down. I’m in a relationship now that’s been so amazing and I’ve been really enjoying our time together. I feel confident in what we have as a result of who we are at this point in our lives, and I take Vanessa for who she is and what she gives to me. It’s amazing to be in a healthy relationship where we have mutual respect and love and so much support for each other. It’s also been absolutely wonderful to openly date a woman for the first time. It’s not just something my friends know about – I can post on social media and refer to her as my “girlfriend” and it’s been a really incredible feeling. I feel very free, open, and authentically myself. 

Going into year 27, I feel more who I want to be, and less who I used to be, or who I thought I was supposed to be. I’m realizing that all of my experiences are pieces of my identity, but I have skythe ability to create myself and who I am today.  Even if you’ve been doing something every single day for years, you have the control to say ‘ya know what, that’s going to be who I was and no longer who I am.’ You can say ‘I used to do this, and now I don’t.’  People can change. I used to live in PA, and now I don’t. I used to get involved in unhealthy relationships with men, and now I don’t. I used to hide certain parts of myself, and now I don’t. That’s something I’ve really realized in moving to AZ; starting anew allowed me to have complete control over what I surrounded myself with and how I spend my time. It doesn’t matter who you’ve been, it matters who you are. You can always create your own narrative.

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Being in this new place, I feel so good. I feel more confident in my everyday life, more successful at work, and more comfortable in my relationship than I ever have before. It’s really wild for me to see the progress I made within the past year. Going into year 27, EVERYTHING is different. For so long, I felt like I was trying to get out or get away from something, and I finally feel like now, I can just LIVE.

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Be aware of who you are versus who you’ve been. Reflect on what you have versus what you’ve had. Know what you want versus what you’ve wanted. This helps you to create the best version of yourself possible, right now, today.

“If you don’t like your life, then you should go and change it.” – The Dirty Heads, Vacation

Thanks for reading!

Greece!

My family has always been big vacationers, and we’ve been taking big trips every few years since I was little. From Disney World, to the Grand Canyon, to Italy and Spain, my family really knows how to travel right. We’re used to doing vacations with a big group since my family is huge, but this trip to Greece was just my parents, my sister and me.

IMG-6035Our trip started in Athens, which took us almost a whole day of travel time to get to. We were able to explore the city plaza the first day and have a welcome dinner that included all the classic tourist events. We 
yelled “Opah!”, danced in a circle, and even got to break some plates – bucket list items checked off! The second day was also in Athens, where we got to tour the historical sites of the city. First stop was the site of the first Olympic games, and we also saw the Palace of Zeus.IMG-6070 Acropolis and the Parthenon were absolutely incredible and full of so much history. We did some shopping as well, of course, and had some drinks and snacks in different places around the plaza. To continue our deep dive into the amazing Greek cuisine, we went out to dinner with my mom’s coworker and friend whose family lives in Athens. Greek food is full of meat, pastries and pies, and of course, feta cheese. I truthfully don’t remember the names of over half of what I ate – but it was all SO GOOD.

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Following Athens, we took a ferry to spend a few days in the island of Mykonos. (For anyone who is curious, Lindsey Lohan’s beach club was unfortunately already IMG-6251closed when we were there.) The first day included a walking tour of Mykonos, which is full of small white alleys of shopping and restaurants. Everywhere on the island was absolutely beautiful, and I really couldn’t get over the view of the sea. We had more tour dinners in town, some time by the pool, and A LOT of shopping in town while in Mykonos. One day included a boat tour, where we were able to snorkel in the water and explore the island of Delos as well, which is full of history and the Place of Athena. We also spent a night out in a discoteca, which was a great IMG-6371time. My family had dinner on the water one night, where my sister and I both ordered “fish with a face on a plate.” Mykonos was probably my favorite part of the trip, just because it was so pretty and so much fun. 

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Santorini was even more beautiful and breathtaking than you could ever imagine. We took another quick ferry to get there, and also had to hike ourselves up quite a hill to the hotel. Since the whole island is basically built on the side of a volcano, everything is either up- or down-hill. The shopping was also awesome in Santorini, and the views were just as good if not better. Oia is the famous location of the view from which you can see all the white buildings with the blue dome tops – and it certainly did not disappoint. We went to a couple different locations on a bus tour of Santorini that provided amazing views of what the island IMG-6484has to offer. The sunsets in Santorini were unlike anything I’ve seen before, and none of our pictures do it justice. The colors that were created behind the ocean horizon blended into the mountains were one of the prettiest things I’ve ever seen in my life, IMG-8123truly. Our last day in Santorini was a free day that we spent on the black sand beach. The sand comes from the rubble of the volcano, which is the reason for the dark color (it also made for an incredible exfoliate). After so much running around and exploring, it was so nice to have the time to just relax on the beautiful beach and enjoy the island for our last day.

The trip home was rough, if I’m going to be totally honest. We already had a full day of travel planned to get back, and the delays out of the Athens airport definitely did not help. It was, of course, still worth it, and made getting home feel that much better. I had to get myself back to Arizona once we were back in the states as well, where there was an amazing welcome waiting for me.

I am always so grateful and appreciative of the amazing experiences that have been provided to me. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to explore countries and cultures that are different than my own, and to have the ability to travel. I’m so thankful that my family is happy, healthy, and fortunate enough to take trips like this. I hope we are able to plan many more!

Thanks for reading!

 

Diva Rules By Michelle Visage

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I bought this book during Drag Con, where I actually got to meet Michelle! She even signed the book for me, which honestly made it a little more exciting to read. Diva Rules is partly about her life, but also largely a self help book for the misfits and freaks who consider themselves fabulous enough to be a diva. Definitely read this if you are ready to start feeling your oats.

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It’s inspiring to hear the story of a girl from New Jersey with big hair and big dreams, who actually managed to make it big. I especially enjoyed the praise through the words of RuPaul, her best Judy. I always think it’s endearing to hear someone speak fondly of someone they love and admire, and Ru clearly adores Michelle. From both of their perspectives, they had a clear connection from the moment they locked eyes, hunty. From there the chemistry just sparked, igniting a lifelong friendship and legacy. 

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One of my childhood friends was adopted, and it’s made a lasting impact on me. I have plans to get involved in either fostering or adopting in my future, and I’m also partial to those who have some experience on the subject. Michelle was adopted, as was her brother David, by two parents whom she praises immensely. She absolutely adores her parents and appreciates the life they gave her; Michelle’s only disappointment was that she was unable to inherit her mom’s big tits. 

I’m incredibly, overly jealous of the time that Michelle got to spend in New York during the up and comings of VOGUE (!!!), and the legendary children and houses featured in 03acd17c0c4d1e0ab48aaf731026608aParis Is Burning (available on Netflix). I mean, she knew Angie Extravaganza (!!!!!!!!) and was winning trophies for voguing before Madonna even know what it was. I mean, that is ICONIC. If she had written about having a kiki with Venus Extravaganza… omg, the fan girl in me might have actually gone crazy. It was during this time that Michelle got her namesake, Visage. She was entering in categories in the balls with her house, and one of the categories was “face”. Her first nickname was “Cara” – roll the “R” – the Spanish word for “face.” But when bedazzled onto her jackets and hats, people were mistaking it for the name Cara. So instead she went with the French word for “face” – visage. Bam! *Said like Alexis Mateo*

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Michelle is inspiring because she works hard, empowers others, believes in herself, and never gives up. She is loving, kind, full of wisdom and also not afraid to clock you for the wrong hemline. Her end goal is always to make those who shine, shine their brightest, including herself. Follow her Diva rules to do just that.

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I really enjoyed this book, and it’s a quick read for anyone who aspires to live up to their full diva potential (available wherever books are sold, or at her booth at DragCons). I also recommend watching Michelle as a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, of course. She is also a current contestant on the British version of Dancing With The Stars (Called Strictly Come Dancing) and was on the British Celebrity Big Brother as well. You may also recognize Michelle from her many many years on the radio, or for her role in the girl groups Seduction and S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M. The bitch works hard, okurr!

Tens across the board! Thanks for reading.

NYC DragCon 2019

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My favorite time of year has come… DRAG CON NYC!!! I went last year with one of my best friends, Rachel, and we were eager to get back again this year. We had a blast at DragCon 2018, but now that we knew the lay of the land, we were ready to make out even better than before for 2019.

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Okay first, let’s talk about my wig. I wore a white one last year, that was cheap and just ordered off of Amazon. I really loved it, but it was very obvious that it was a wig. Not that I cared, it was just fun to participate. I did the same thing this year and ordered a new wig online, this time picking a lavender color with bangs. After posting a few things on my Instagram, everyone was complimenting me and asking about “my new hair.” LOL – I had to let several people know that this was a wig. I honestly did not think that it looked super realistic, but I’m still getting comments about this look a month after the fact.

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Anyway, like I said, Rach and I knew what we were doing this year. We got there in time to watch the queens arrivals again on the pink carpet, and then we were quick to jump in some lines. We got to IMG-5735meet SO MANY QUEENS!! It was really incredible. It started with Michelle Visage, from whom I also bought a signed autographed copy of her book, Diva Rules. Kennedy Davenport had a short line at her booth, as did Jiggly Caliente, IMG-5743so we were already making out great just within the first few hours of the day. Soju and Ariel Versace were together in a booth, so we actually got to meet both ofIMG-5771 them at the same time. My favorite queen that I met that day was Willam, who has always been one of my all-time favorites. Willam was releasing his new line of makeup called “CoverBoy”, and was sitting in a giant chair taking selfies with fans. I told her I was a ‘friend of the pod’ (Race Chaser Podcast), and we talked about the shade that she threw on her season. It was unbelievable! RuPaul was right on the main stage for a majority of the day, playing DJ and dancing along to all his favorite songs. It was honestly captivating to just watch him up there, standing less than IMG-5741100 feet from me. Later on in the day, Rachel and I were sitting against a random wall to give our feet a break while we scarfed down some hot dogs from a street vendor. Rachel was right in the middle of sentence when she saw Ru walk around the corner, and she immediately yelled out a quick, “HI RU!!” I snapped my head around just in time to see Ru wave hello directly to Rachel before going into a VIP louge. IT WAS AMAZING.

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To end the day, we went to a panel where Ross Mathews was reading an exclusive exert from his upcoming book, Name Drop. (His current best-selling book, Man Up, can be found anywhere fine books are sold.) I actually made sure that we were first in line, so that we could be front row. One of the staff noticed my eagerness for Ross, and actually gave us some free passes and also moved uIMG-5773s into the reserved section so that I was directly in front of Ross, completely in his eye sight! The panel was great, the exert was hilarious, and I got to talk to Ross to ask a question during the panel. He actually recognized me, and laughed about the fact that I had left him one of my famous voicemails earlier in the day. We took a picture together after the panel was over, and we are now definitely well on our way to becoming best friends. Just wait.

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And so concluded day one. We stayed with my friend Brian, who I’ve been close to since elementary school. He and his boyfriend live in Brooklyn, and the two of them provided us with some high quality NYC fun that night. We went to a Burning Man themed party, and were out til about 5 in the morning. I truly have no idea how I was able to be awake and functional for day two.

We got there the second day just in time to make it to Ivy Oddly’s Odd School – a panel about her fashion during her time on the show. Since she is the reigning queen currently, it was super IMG-5866cool to just be in the same room as her, listening to her iconic laugh. After that, we got right back to the booth lines. We were able to seeIMG-5890 Manila Luzon, who was always one of my favorites even before her time on All-Stars. We also got to meet the lovely Gia Gunn, who is such an influencing trans icon. There were plenty of other queens whose booths we may have been able to make it to, but some of the minimums kinda turned us off. (In order to meet a queen at her booth, you usually have to purchase something from her merchandise. Some required a minimum, so you had to buy at least $30 or so worth of stuff in order to get a picture. Personally, I don’t like the minimum purchase requirement, as it diverts some people from getting to visit some of their favorites.) The bestIMG-5854 queen of day two was the same as my favorite from last year, Ongina. I just love her so much – she’s so funny and adorable and 
super fun to just be around. I so hope to see her on an upcoming season of All-Stars or something, cause she is such a star and totally deserves more fans.

The rest of the day was spent doing some shopping within the vendors between booths and watching a totally awesome pole-dancing competition. We also had IMG-5895some fun playing around with the big photo props. There’s always iconic sayings from the show printed on huge signs with impeccable lighting. We spent so much time running around that we actually IMG-5911stayed all the way to the end of the event, where they started turning lights off and packing up to leave. We definitely got the full use of our tickets this year, between all the amazing queens we got to meet and the panels we got to attend. Not to mention, of course, all the photo opps for my Insta. The day ended with another street vendor hot dog and a long bus ride out of the city.

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DragCon is without a doubt one of my favorite weekends of the entire year, and I look forward to many many more! This tradition for us will not be short lived, and I’m thinking maybe for 2020, we’ll attend Drag Con 2020 LA…?!

Thanks for reading!

The Positive Lexicography

definition-of-word-lexicography-in-dictionary-F0JMNFI remember hearing once that there was a word in another language that describes the feeling you get when you think something is so cute that you get the urge to squeeze it. There isn’t a specific word for this sensation in the English language, and this idea of “untranslatable” words has been explored by Tim Lomas, PhD. These words emphasize feelings that we may have had before, but are unable to describe through the use of the language we know. By introducing the ideas and feelings that other languages have words for, we can further the types of happiness that we are capable of understanding through diction.

From this idea, Dr. Lomas developed an index titled “The Positive Lexicography”, which contains these untranslatable words from many languages around the world that relate to happiness and well-being. Dr. Tim Lomas has also written many books, papers, and published articles on the topic, and many others have continued his studies on their own as well. The lexicography is continuously evolving, and can be found on Dr. Lomas’ website. Here are a few examples*:

“Pretoogies” – Dutch:
referring to the twinkling eyes of someone engaged in benign mischief

“Tarab” – Arabic:
a word for musically induced ecstasy

“Tabanca” – Creole:
the bittersweet feeling of being left by someone you love

“Ohanami” – Japanese:
a word for gathering with others to appreciate flowers

“Fernweh” – German:
describing a longing to travel to distant lands; a kind of homesickness for the unexplored

“Morgenfrisk” – Danish:
describing the satisfaction one gets from a good night’s sleep

“Otium” – Latin:
the joy of being in control of one’s own time

worldA social media campaign was created, called “The Happy Words Project”, which can be found on Dr. Lomas’ facebook page. People are encouraged to contribute to the campaign by adding their own suggestions through recordings and videos, which promotes happy wordshappiness and positivity through new words and ideas. You can follow @DrTimLomas on all social media platforms, participate using the hashtag #HappyWordsProject, or follow @HappyWordsProject on Instagram for illustrated words of the day.

Thanks for reading!

*The Unique Joy Of Learning New Words  
Language Article by Katy Steinmetz,
TIME Magazine, October 1, 2018.

Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing and Hope by Karamo Brown

IMG-6654Being a die-hard fan of both Dancing With The Stars and Queer Eye, I was so excited to hear that Karamo Brown would be a contestant on this upcoming season. You may know him as “Crazy Karamo” from MTV’s The Real World, “culture expert” in the Fab Five of Netflix’s Queer Eye, and now Jenna Johnson’s partner on DWTS. Because I’m somebody who takes a deep dive into everything that I love, I ordered Karamo’s book, and I actually read the entire thing in one sitting. 

karamoWithin the first 10 pages, I could feel Karamo’s charisma, positivity, and enlightenment radiating through the words. The way he writes is so light and refreshing, and his life has proven to be wildly interesting. He is concise, clear, and incredibly wise and reflective. It was empowering to read such amazing things from a member of the LGBTQ community and from someone whom I value and admire so much. 

Screen-Shot-2019-04-02-at-9.47.26-AMI’m inspired by Karamo’s ability to openly admit and own up to his mistakes. I’m wildly impressed by him, and I hope to be able to work on taking accountability for my own actions as a result. Karamo admittedly has a number of things to apologize for, but he does just that with eloquence and grace. I also loved Karamo’s thoughts on the term “letting people in” rather than “coming out” in the LGBTQ+ community. His ideas were something I related to IMMENSELY and appreciated completely:IMG-6655

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I basically cried while reading about his relationship with his fiancé, Ian. Not just because of how adorably in love they are, but also the dynamics and interactions between him and Karamo’s sons. Karamo proposed on Ian’s birthday, just after his son’s Jason and Chris announced that their gift was that they want to call him “Pops”. Family was a clear, present, and fascinating topic for Karamo throughout the book, and Ian completed this part of him. Their relationship is truly beautiful. 

queer-eye-public-domainThere was a lot of push back at first for Karamo on Queer Eye, because he wanted to be the “culture expert” that’s really more of a life coach. The previous culture expert from the original show focused more on arts, museums, plays, etc. in terms of “culture”, but Karamo had a clear goal and intention for what he wanted this role to be. It breaks my heart to hear the negative feedback he first got, as a result of the network not being unified on the vision for his expertise on the show. As a viewer and fan of the series, I feel as though I understood Karamo from the beginning. Even in the very first episode, from which he claims his interactions were largely cut, I could see that Karamo’s impact was present and important. I see you, Karamo! Work, girl!

dwts-karamo-brownI absolutely loved Karamo’s book. It was quick, full of wisdom, and provided me with a new insight into who he is. You can binge watch Queer Eye on Netflix over and over again anytime – and I highly recommend you do so. Of course I also HIGHLY highly recommend Karamo’s book, which can be found wherever books are sold. Also – please vote for him on Dancing With The Stars this season! (Mondays at 8:00 PM on ABC.)

Thanks for reading!

March For Our Lives Peace Plan

My journey with gun reform started with the March on Washington last year, has been continued through March For Our Lives resources and other organizational support as well, and the issue continues to be a prominent problem in America.

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I got a message from March For Our Lives on August 21st, announcing their “Peace Plan for a Safer America”. This plan includes a comprehensive agenda on ending the problems with gun violence in the U.S.

mfol2“Created by survivors, so you don’t have to be one.”

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When I first got the text notification about the peace plan and went to visit the site, it had crashed and went offline. Of course many news outlets had already picked up the story and information for me to immediately find, but I feel that the crash is promising and shows the high level of interest on the topic. Maybe I’m just being optimistic, but most American’s actually do agree on many details of gun reform.

unnamedWaiting for policy changes is a slow moving process, and the organization is focusing on what we can do to help push the agenda to make America safer. While many policymakers are simply offering thoughts and prayers,  the Peace Plan is instead addressing the issue head on, by demanding bold C.H.A.N.G.E.:

Change the standards of gun ownership
Halve the rates of gun deaths in ten years
Accountability for the gun lobby and industry
Name a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention
Generate community-based solutions
Empower the next generation

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The Peace Plan is ambitious, forward thinking, and worth fighting for. The idea is shift power away from the NRA so that all types of gun violence can be addressed: from suicides and accidental shootings to gun violence and shootings driven by hate.

To sign the petition, donate to the cause, or learn more information, visit MarchForOurLives.com or click here for a direct link to the Peace Plan.

Thanks for reading.

Fall TV 2019

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The best part about fall is having all of your favorite TV shows come back on the air! Here’s the list of what I will most definitely be watching this season:

 

Monday, September 9th:
The Kelly Clarkson Show – NBC

Monday, September 16th:
Dancing With The Stars – ABC

Wednesday, September 18th:
American Horror Story: 1984 – FX

Sunday, September 22nd:
71st Emmy Awards – FOX

Monday, September 23rd:
The Voice – NBC

Tuesday, September 24th:
This Is Us – NBC
Empire – FOX
Black-ish – ABC
Mixed-ish – ABC

Wednesday, September 25th:
Modern Family – ABC
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia – FX

Thursday, September 26th:
The Good Place – NBC
A Million Little Things – ABC

Friday, September 27th:
Fresh Off The Boat – ABC

Saturday, September 28th:
Saturday Night Live – NBC

Sunday, September 29th:
Shark Tank – ABC

television-set

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Guns In America

4My stance on gun violence and gun control reform is no secret, and after the shootings this weekend in El Paso and Dayton, I’m deeply saddened. I absolutely do not support our president and the awful things he says. I just don’t think it’s okay that a president can spew such racist remarks, promote hate, and be such a bully to individuals that he should be respecting. It’s not okay that this is the face of our country. Because as a result, people think that way of thinking is alright. And then they go and shoot up places that have a high diversity population, and post their white supremacy manifestos online. What’s happening in our country is upsetting, dis-heartening, and embarrassing, and is also a direct correlation to the racist person that we have in office.

*The above are my opinions. You do not have to agree with them. Regardless of race issues, guns continue to be a prominent and polarizing topic in the U.S. Below are some actual facts about guns in America.*

3Guns in America are growing. The number of civilian owned firearms has grown from 170 million in 1990 to 265 million in 2015. Gun-control legislation can help keep everyone safe, as stricter gun-control laws reduce gun deaths – up to 9 times as less. Focus on the types of weapons available can also help, as the the average number of victims in high-capacity weapon shootings is roughly twice as high as shootings where other firearms were used. 

More guns = more deaths from guns. Not only are the gun violence rates much higher in the U.S. than other countries, but the firearm suicide rate is also much hire. We have 8 times the amount of deaths than Canada, 13 times more than France, 20 times more than Australia and 40 times more than Germany.

More guns = more guns being obtained illegally. 40% of criminals with guns obtain them from a street or illegal source, 37% get them from a family or friend, and 11% from a pawnshop, gun show, or other retailer.

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Opinions from gun owners vs. non-gun owners:

  • 89% of both gun owners and non-gun owners support preventing people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns.
  • 82% of gun owners and 84% of non-gun owners support preventing gun purchasing from people on no-fly or watch lists.
  • 77% of gun owners and 87% of non-gun owners support requiring background checks for private gun sales and at gun shows.
  • 54% of gun owners and 80% of non-gun owners support creating a federal database to track all gun sales.
  • 48% of gun owners and 77% of non-gun owners support banning assault-style weapons.

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This information was published in TIME Magazine on November 5th, 2018, and is still extremely relevant today, almost one year later.

“This is America. Guns in my area.” – Childish Gambino, 2018

6To help support the families of the victims of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, donations can be made to the El Paso Community Foundation, Paso Del Norte Foundation, or the Dayton Foundation. (Click here for more information.)

Thanks for reading.

Source: Guns In America: A TIME and JR Project, TIME Magazine.

Out Of Orange by Cleary Wolters

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If you watched the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, then you are familiar with Alex Vause. If you’ve read Piper Kerman’s book with the same title, then you are familiar with Nora Jansen. The real woman is named Cleary Wolters. After finishing the final season of the series, as well as the real Piper’s book, I decided to round out my obsession by reading Out Of Orange – the memoir of the “real woman behind the glasses.”

Hearing about when she first saw the Netflix commercial – damn. I felt my own heart sink along with her reaction of first hearing the now iconic clicking of the gate. Cleary had no idea that this production was happening. She was still on parole for her crime, unable to legally communicate with Piper, and didn’t know how this would affect her status.

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She then goes back to the beginning of her story and her crimes to show us the full sequence of events. The Netflix show completely leaves out Cleary’s sister, who is an integral part of the story. She is dating the boss, or “God”, as some called him – the one running the drug smuggling operations. That’s how Cleary/Nora/Alex got involved in the first place. The book focuses more on the crime and the details of the drug ring than anything else. The story is long and elaborate, and while I did find a lot of it interesting, I found that it could definitely have been more concise. Regardless, I’m glad that Cleary got a chance to tell her side of the story and set her own narrative.

In the 7th and final season of OITNB, one of the COs shoves a condom full of heroin down Alex’s throat to hide it. Funnily enough, that’s how many of Cleary’s co-workers transported drugs. She details her first trip, where her colleague puts the heroin into the pinky of a rubber glove, ties it and cuts it off, dips it into some yogurt, and swallows it whole. He does this over and over again until he’s consumed it all, each capsule containing enough heroin to kill him immediately if accidentally released inside him before he has a chance to go through digestion. Cleary, however, has the heroin she is moving sewn into a man’s suit. They later adapt to a method where it is sewn directly into the lining of the suitcases. (This was the 90’s, so prior to drug sniffing dogs.)

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Piper is a not as big of a character in most the book as one may think, starting out just as the role of “cat godmother and babysitter” for a while in a platonic way. It did, of course, evolve into something more, but she is still a secondary, maybe even tertiary, character in the drug operations. I think it proves how someone small in your life can have such a big influence. Piper can blame Cleary for getting her mixed into the business that led to her year in prison, but it brought her wild success. And in return, Piper also put Cleary on the map; I would not have read her book or even known her name had it not been for Piper Kerman and Netflix.

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Overall, I’m not sure that Cleary Wolters is one of my favorite authors. The further I got into the book, the more I disliked the way Cleary writes. It’s scattered and sometimes repetitive in a strange way. For example, she’ll describe swallowing a vicodin down with a scoop of her miso soup, followed by the fact that she ordered sushi and miso soup. I almost wondered if she wrote a draft, and then an editor told her to go back and add more detail, and she just did that in random areas. Not to mention, I feel as though the cover and title did not accurately reflect the contents of the book. It’s not until page 234 that she finally sees prison time, and the book is somewhere around 300 or so pages. The story is almost the prologue to Pipers, and I just think that could have been portrayed more. Not to judge a book by its cover or anything. And like I said before, I very much enjoyed hearing her side of the story.

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Honestly, maybe if I was more of a cat person, I would have enjoyed this book a little bit more.

Thanks for reading.

Support LGBTQ Causes

Looking to get more involved in the LGBTQ+ community? Here are many amazing organizations and causes that are always looking for more support:

 

GLSEN-Safe-InclusiveGLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network): The leading national education organization, promoting anti-bullying through campaigns and gay-straight alliances in schools across the nation. Volunteer or donate at glsen.org or 212-727-0135.

hrc-foundationHuman Rights Campaign Foundation: A civil rights advocacy group who focuses largely on LGBTQ rights, marriage equality, and legislation changes that include hate-crimes and anti-discrimination movements. Volunteer or donate at hrc.org or 202-628-4160.

Lambda LegalLambda Legal: A defense and education fund that supports civil rights and provides legal services for the LGBTQ community as well as individuals living with HIV and AIDS.
Attorney’s can join the Cooperating Attorney Network within the organization, and anyone can volunteer or donate at lamdalegal.org or 212-809-8585.

PFLAGPFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays): An organization that promotes the health and wellness of LGBTW people and their loved ones through support groups and scholarship programs. Sign up or donate at pflag.org or 202-467-8180.

 

SageSage: A social group that provides health services, housing, and employement opportunties for LGBTQ senior citizens. Get involved or donate at sageusa.org or 212-741-2247.

 

Stonewall Community FoundationStonewall Community Foundation: A fundraiser to support LGBTQ non-profits and organizations in NYC, which includes scholarship programs that support refugees and asylum seekers. Donate at stonewallfoundation.org or 212-457-1341.

stonewall initiativeStonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative: The official and only charitable giving organization of the Historic Stonewall Inn, promoting tolerance and acceptance in communities across America. Get more information or donate at stonewallinitiative.org or 646-242-8382.

 

Take Back The PromTake Back The Prom: A DoSomthing campaign where thousands of students share stories and sign petitions to demand change from schools who still have discrimination policies. Students can access the Anxiety Line by texting PROM to 38383, or donate at takebacktheprom.com.

The Trevor ProjectThe Trevor Project:  A confidential hotline that provides crisis and suicide-prevention services, as well as resources for parents and educators. Volunteer to be trained to become a lifeline counselor or volunteer, or donate at thetrevorproject.org or 310-271-8845.

 

Now go get involved! Thanks for reading!

5 LGBT Historical Figures You Should Know

Even though Pride Month has officially ended, it’s still important to remember the people who paved the way for us to celebrate. My company’s internal Pride magazine has continued to show focus on the trailblazers that paved the way for the rest of us. So, here are 5 historical LGBTQ figures that you should most definitely know about:

 

harveymilk460Harvey Milk
The first openly gay elected official in the U.S., Harvey Milk was a civil and human rights activist who served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. His work in advocacy for the LGBTQ community was only beginning when he was assassinated less than just one year in office.

Bayard RustinBayard Rustin
A close adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Bayard Rustin marched with on Washington as a black and gay man to fight for civil rights. He was one of the most effective influencers of the civil rights movement, and was nicknamed “Mr. March-on-Washington”.

Michael_DillonLaurence Michael Dillon
robertaBorn with the name Laura Maud, Laurence Michael Dillon was the first person to undergo FTM gender reassignment surgery.  He was a British physician, but when his story was revealed to the world, he fled to India and became a Monk. Roberta Cowell is also noteworthy, as she was the first to undergo a surgical MTF transition.

Simon NkoliSimon Nkoli
Experiencing extreme discrimination, Simon Nkoli was a South Africa native that was one of the first Black anti-apartheid activists to publicly identify as gay and HIV-positive. He was diagnosed while in prison for protesting, and eventually died of an AIDS related illness.

herculineHerculine Barbin
Assigned female at birth but later reclassified by law as male, Herculine Barbin was the first person to be labeled as intersex. Herculine eventually changed their name to Abel, and died by suicide at the age of 30 after much medical scrutiny.  (Note: There are no confirmed pictures of Herculine Barbin, so the above picture may not be accurate.)

 

gay   Thanks for reading!

For more information on these amazing people, please visit:  
milkfoundation.org/ ;  
kinginstitute.edu/rustin-bayard ;  
http://library.transgenderzone.com/ ;  
www.sahistory.org.za/tseko-simon-nkoli ;  
Herculine Barbin, By Michel Foucault

Podcast Favorites #6

podcast  The pods don’t stop! Here are even more my favorite podcast suggestions: (#1#2#3#4, #5)

 

420 FRIENDLY:

MJ today daily

Marijuana Today Daily – For any headline that is cannabis related across the U.S., here is your resource. This daily dose of top stories and breaking news along with other relevant information will certainly keep you in the know. Host Shea Gunther celebrates the achievements made in the cannabis industry and leads you to longer online articles as well if you are interested in some of his briefed topics. Under 10 minutes long and released each morning, it’s a good quick listen.

 

Stoner Horoscopes

Stoner Horoscopes – This podcast only comes out monthly, and has a separate page to follow for each separately horoscope (which is nice, so then you don’t have to delete the horoscope episodes that aren’t yours). It’s always a quick and lighthearted listen, wishing you good fortunate and recommending different strains of cannibals to bring you positivity.  It’s definitely a little hippy dippy, but I enjoy it.

 

CELEB PODCASTS:

Chelsea HandlerLife Will Be The Death Of Me with Chelsea Handler – If you are a Chelsea Handler fan, then you know that her new book just came out. Chelsea combines her book tour, lessons learned from her therapist, and her life stories to pull together this podcast. It’s very relevant, liberal, and important information and ideas that should spark a lot of good discussion. I’m a big Chelsea fan, and am spreading her new words to live by: “The world is only getting browner and gayer, and if you don’t hop on board, you’re gonna miss the fucking bus.”

 

Justin Long

Life Is Short with Justin Long – Just like many other celebrity podcasts, Justin Long interviews his colleagues and friends in a free-spirited environment. This podcast often includes his brother as a co-host, and has a very very very catchy theme song. The show isn’t entirely original, and reminds me of other celeb podcasts. However there are a lot of big named celebrities and if you like Justin then it’s still worth listening to.

 

IMPORTANT ISSUES:

Out and Up

Out and Up – I’m going to be honest here. This podcast has a great message and some good content, but it’s a little dry and hard to get through. I’ve often picked it up and put it back down, as not every single guest is a natural given story teller. Even still, these stories are important and should be heard, and as a member of the LGBTQ community, I have intentions to continue to support.

 

 

#tellblackstories

#TellBlackStories – I’m going to continue to support this podcast as well, but here is some more honesty. The words and stories in this podcast are truly awesome, but the audio quality needs a ton of work. Often the different individuals talking are at wildly different volumes, and you either can’t hear one or are deafened when the other starts talking. If you are able to listen, the interviews are so great and highlight different struggles and obstacles that powerful people have overcome. There’s so much left to uncover as well in future episodes, but they need to get the audio worked out.

 

New Pod On The Block

New Pod On The Block – Don’t try to tell me that boy bands are not an important issue to be talked about, because they are! Hosts Josh and Mike are huge boy band fans, and they bring us through all our 90’s favorite things. From liquid dreams, to the best bops and bangers, you will be reliving some of your best memories. 98 Degrees, Backstreet Boys, N*SYNC, Boyz II Men, and so much more – they are all waiting for you.

 

The podcast love is real, so please comment or send me your favorite podcasts!

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

Summer Movies 2019

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Here is a list of movies that were already or are going to ticketbe released this summer that I may or may not try to see. 

*Disclaimer, the last time I set out with a list of new movies to watch, I only watched two out of five of them. I’ll make an effort to finish that list, and I will certainly try to hold myself more to the commitment this time.*

 

booksmartBooksmart – May 24th

maMa – May 31st

rocketmanRocketman – May 32nd

men in blackMen In Black: International – June 14th

murder mysteryMurder Mystery – June 14th

yesterdayYesterday – June 28th

once upona timeOnce Upon A Time In Hollywood – July 26th

good boysGood Boys – August 16th

bernadetteWhere’d You Go Bernadette – August 16th

 

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Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading.

Road Trip 2019!

IMG-4397I’ve been planning my big move to the amazing city of Tucson, AZ for quite some time now, and the day has finally arrived!! My amazing friend Rachel, who was also my college roommate, was completely awesome and decided to make the trip with me.

IMG-4468We started out in or around Allentown, Pennsylvania, and separately drove a quick hour to my parents’ house outside of Philly, so that Rachel could drop her car there for after her flight home. To be frank, that was probably the worst part of the entire trip, because it was pouring down rain with thunder and lightening. With my windshield wipers on the fastest speed, I hoped for better weather once we got out of PA.

IMG-4403I got my wish, and the rest of the day was absolutely beautiful. We drove through the tip of Delaware, to the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland, through Richmond Virginia, and eventually made our way to Nashville, Tennessee for our first overnight stop. We stayed at just a cheap motel, but we were able to see some of the “downtown” life, and had dinner with my cousin, who lives in the area.

IMG-4476Day two took us deep into the South, going through the rest of Tennessee and into Arkansas. We stopped for a leisurely lunch in Little Rock, where Rachel was able to find an outdoor cafe that was dog friendly. With locally sourced food, equality signs, and a cashier with dreadlocks, it was totally not what I was envisioning to find in the South! They did take a very long time, but luckily this was our shortest day of driving, so we still made it to our Air BnB in Dallas, Texas before it got dark. The apartment was beautiful, and we were exhausted, so we pretty much watched some Netflix and went straight to sleep.

IMG-4428The last day was the longest, and as we drove through the rest of Texas, I was made aware of what a gigantic state it truly is. It felt like we were never going to make it out, but it was definitely exciting for us to see how close we were to Mexico. Normally we would have had to go through border patrol check points, but they were currently closed because of some political bullshit, so we got lucky and could fly right by without stopping. We cruised through New Mexico and made it to my new state of Arizona while the sun was still up! (The time difference certainly worked in our favor for the entire trip.)

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Rachel stayed the night with me on an air mattress in my new place, but unfortunately had to fly home the next morning for work. This was actually Rachel’s first time on a plane, and here she was flying home all by herself – signs of a true friend!! She also helped me document along the way while my hands were busy at the wheel, so I was able to compile our adventures into one video:

 

So that’s it! I’m here in Tucson, Arizona! I made it – and this is my new home.

Thanks for watching! And thanks for reading.

Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman

orange ishte newYou probably know the Netflix show Orange is the New Black, and you may or may not know that the plot is based on a true story. I wanted the details, which is what led me to Piper Kerman’s memoir, detailing her year in a women’s prison. 

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The first season is the truest to the book, of course with its differences as well, but the nature of how, when, and why Piper went to prison are all true. The beginning of the book tells the story of her crime, when she was in her twenties, and is almost identical to the scene in the show. The blonde wig disguise, the skipping of customs, and the love affair was all true. Even certain lines were the same, such as Piper’s grandmother asking what she did with all the money – to which Piper replied, “Well Grandma, I wasn’t really in it for the money…”

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Much of her arrival to prison paralleled her real experience as well, such as getting the gift of a toothbrush from other white women and having her bed made for her so that they’d pass inspection. A lot of characters also parallel the show. The driver with a New York accent and bright red lipstick is certainly comparable to Lorna Morello, there’s a track star just like Janae, and Spanish mami’s that reminded me of Gloria and Maria. All names were changed for the show of course, and not all crimes in the show match up with those who committed them in real life.

alex cThe biggest difference between the book and the TV show, is that the real Alex Vause was not in the same prison as Piper. In the book, Piper calls the Alex character by the name of Nora Janson, but the real woman is named Cleary Wolters. The two of them did not end up together, and Piper is actually still happily married to Larry. Piper and Alex did cross paths when they ran into each other while being held in Chicago, where they were both called to testify against another man involved in their crime ring. There was a lot of tension during that time, and no romantic interactions. There was, however, a woman there who relentlessly tried to obtain Piper’s birth time and place for her chart.

piper and larryChicago also played a major factor of what was different in the book versus the TV show, as Piper’s release date actually came in real life while she was being held in Chicago for the trial. She was released from there, and had to fly home with Larry to New York. The final season of OTINB will show Piper’s release from prison, and I hope that they throw Piper Chapman the going-away party that Piper Kerman was robbed of.

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If you are an avid fan of the show, the book is a great read. There’s many quick tidbits or opinions that became major story lines in the show, which is really fascinating to see how they used the book as a resource. It’s like they have their regular story line, and they frequently go back to the book whenever they needed inspiration.

Here are some more similarities and differences that I found interesting or noteworthy:

  • Piper’s grandmother really did get sick and pass away while Piper was in prison. Piper did apply for furlough, but it was, of course, never granted.
  • There really was a girl nicknamed Pennsatucky, and she really did get new teeth! However, she had no extreme religious story line, and she and Piper were actually good friends throughout their stay.
  • Danbury becomes Litchfield. Yoga Janet becomes Yoga Jones. And Pop – who runs the kitchen, has a very long sentence, and often gets special treatment – becomes Red.
  • Martha Stewart was sentenced to prison during this time, who would be comparable to the Judy character in the show. However, she did not serve time in the same camp as Piper. Though Danbury was the location requested by Martha so that she could be close to her grandmother, the camp was conveniently and temporarily closed at that time to ensure that Martha would not be taking one of the beds there, which could lead them to media scrutiny.
  • Larry really did write a segment for a newspaper’s ‘modern love’ column. However, it had little to do with Piper’s time in prison. It was actually pretty short and very sweet, and about how much he loved Piper. Piper and Larry’s relationship is still a success to this day, and they reside together in Brooklyn.

piper kPiper was also very reflective as she got to the end of the book, and was able to understand the bigger picture of her crimes. When she was a young girl moving this suitcase of money, she was not thinking of how drugs affect the rest of the country. She reflected on women who were put in terrible situations, and were involved in drug crimes simply because they had no other options. Piper also acknowledged her privilege and how she was given opportunities after leaving prison that other women would not be so lucky to have. She talked about how the U.S. correctional system does not do much “correcting”, and does not set up prisoners to have successful lives when they are released. Piper has gotten involved in prison reform and women’s rights since her release, and I hope that her efforts can better the lives of future women who are incarcerated.

If you are interested in Piper’s cause, you can visit www.piperkerman.com/justice-reform or facebook.com/orangeisthenewblack.

The seventh and final season of Orange Is The New Black will be released on Netflix on Friday, June 26th, 2019.

Thanks for reading!

I FINALLY MET ROSS MATHEWS!

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Okay guys.. it finally happened. After all of my efforts and persistence in the past year since my first time calling in, I have finally MET ROSS MATHEWS FOR REAL!! It was amazing, he was incredible, and it was as wonderful as I could have asked for.

As I was getting everything together for my move, I heard on my favorite podcast, Straight Talk With Ross, that they were going to be recording a live show in NYC. I quickly checked the dates on my calendar, and decided that it was worth squeezing this trip in. My moving truck was coming on that Monday, but there was no way I could miss out on this opportunity. I mean, how often is Ross Mathews in NYC?! I quickly bought two tickets to both shows, figuring I’d find a friend who wanted to tag along with me. I wrote in on social media that I would be in attendance, and CJay announced this on the episode leading up to the live tapings. I was dying!

I’m always writing/calling into the show and interacting with the podcast crew on social media, IMG-4248but I wasn’t sure if any of them actually would recognize my name. I walked into the venue for the live show with my friend Jenna next to me, and the first thing I heard was someone calling my name. I looked around to see JROD walking right towards me! I gave him a big hug, pretty stunned that he was able to recognize me right upon entrance. He told me the first show was about to start and he ran off to get things started. DYING.

Jenna and I quickly got drinks and sat down for the first show. There was a bunch of the normal antics, along with interviews with drag queens Aja and Miz Cracker – who also performed. At some point, Jenna and I needed a drink refill, and I went to the bar to find CJay ordering a drink as well. I introduced myself as “Bisexual Gina” and he immediately hugged me and greeted me enthusiastically, telling me he would find me later. OMGGG YES, STILL DYING.

In between shows, my friend and I were sitting outside with other Straight Talkers who were in line for pictures in the VIP section. We got some food and as we were hanging out, I felt someone’s eyes on me. I look up to see Cjay, with hIMG-4256is arm around ROSS MATHEWS, and POINTING AT ME! I started freaking out as they walked over and I quickly introduced myself to Ross. We talked a little about God knows what, because I basically blacked out during the interaction. He was so calm and awesome, and I was not calm and overly excited. He got pulled away quickly, but told me that he would be talking with me later. STILL DYING, IS THIS REAL?!

During the second show, Ross started calling up some of his STWR favorites up to the stage, and one of those included ME! He said that he IMG-4295had thought that I was going to be nuts, and I told him that I totally am. He talked about how he listens to every single one of my voicemails (I leave him about one per month) and how he plays them for the rest of the podcast crew. He was so quick with his wit, and we were able to banter easily in the funnest way. It was so unbelievable to be onstage with him, answering questions and getting to freak out along with the rest of the crowd. I even got pulled up again later on in the show to read a “good bad joke.” It was honestly more than I ever could have hoped for. I think I actually died here. Dead. 

IMG-4251After the second show, we hung out in the VIP section to get our pictures with the crew. What was honestly amazing was that people wanted to take picture with ME! It was really cool to feel like I had my 15 minutes of fame in some way, and everyone was so incredibly nice. Unfortunately, I had had waaayyy too much to drink and not enough to eat, so I was pretty wasted at this point. After being overly friendly, taking way too many pictures, and repeating myself several times, Jenna and I left to find food with a promise to meet up with some people later for karaoke. 

Even though I thought I was out for the count, I IMG-4296was able to get myself together to make it to karaoke – and I’m sure glad that I did! JRod and other Straight Talkers were there, and I brought Jenna and my other friend along with me. We put on a good show with songs like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Don’t Stop Me Now” and I had such a blast.

IMG-4279I was really feeling it the next day, and I had a ton of work to do to get my stuff ready for the moving truck, but WOW was it all worth it!! I’ve heard before that you shouldn’t meet your heroes, because you might be disappointed, but Ross was everything I could have asked for and more! I am so incredibly thankful and happy for this experience and I sure hope that I get to interact with Ross again in the future.

To listen to the live recordings of the show, find Straight Talk With Ross wherever you listen to podcasts, and go to the episodes released on June 13th and June 18th. They are episodes 282 (Live From Brooklyn with Miz Cracker & Aja) and episode 283 (Nikki B Bobbin For Big Apples – #2 STWR Live in Brooklyn), and the recap episode is After Glow #4. I come in on the Nikki B Bobbin Episode (283) around minute 14:33. Or for the direct link, you can CLICK HERE .

Thanks for reading!

 

Summer TV 2019

summertv2SUMMER TV IS HEREEEE!!! Now that it’s officially June, there are so many new shows starting up. ESPECIALLY GAME SHOW REVIVALS!!! I am so excited. My friend has recommended the app TV Time to me, where you can track your favorite shows and get notifications when new episodes are being released. Here’s what I’ll be adding to my watch list for summer:

Monday, June 3rd: 
So You Think You Can Dance – FOX

Wednesday, June 5th:
Grown-ish – FreeForm

Sunday, June 9th: 
Celebrity Family Feud – ABC
$100,000 Pyramid – ABC
To Tell The Truth – ABC

Wednesday, June 12th:
Press Your Luck – ABC
Card Sharks – ABC
Match Game – ABC

Sunday, June 16th:
Euphoria – HBO

Monday, June 17th:
Whose Line Is It Anyway? – The CW

Thursday, June 20th:
Family Food Fight – ABC
Spin The Wheel – ABC

Tuesday, June 25th:
Big Brother – CBS

Thursday, July 25th:
Orange Is The New Black – Netflix

Monday, July 20th:
Bachelor In Paradise – ABCtv1

Thanks for reading!

Gun Violence Awareness Facts

As I’ve said before, I subscribe to different outlets for affecting change in various ways in an effort to support the issues that I wear orange 1care about (see – Trans Awareness Week). March For Our Lives is included in this list, as I also attended the rally in Washington in March 2018, and I continue to get news and alerts from the organization. Since June is Gun Violence Awareness month, I received a text update and was prompted to take a quiz on my knowledge of gun violence. Here are the questions and the information that was shared:*

wear orange 2How many people on average die from gun violence every day?
Answer: 100 people per day – that’s loved ones we’re losing every day because of guns. 

wear orange 2How does the U.S. gun homicide rate compare to other high-income countries?
Answer: It’s 25x higher. This is a uniquely American problem which our leaders have failed to address.

wear orange 2What percentage of Americans support universal background checks?
Answer: 97%. Implementing universal background checks is one way to start addressing these issues. 

Please be aware of which politicians are supportive of what you believe in, and who is fighting to keep our country safe. Also, make sure you #WearOrange on June 7th to support Gun Violence Awareness Month.

Thanks for reading.

*Quiz by March For Our Lives. 
For more information and references, 
visit https://marchforourlives.com/.

VOTE! (The Primary)

For many parts of the country, it’s election day! There have been historical highs in the last couple of elections for voter turnout, specifically in younger demographics and minority groups. Women really showed up for the midterm, voting at higher rates than the men! Most voters reported that they had a positive voting experience, and policies have become priority over partisanship.*vote 3Do you know who and what you’re voting for? There are so many great people looking to run and make a change, so it’s important to know where you are going to lend your support. As always, I know it can be a lot to keep up with, so here’s just a super quick reminder on how to make this easy. 

To find information on your polling place and what to expect on your ballot, I recommend visiting vote411.org and clicking on “Your Voting Guide”. You will be prompted to put in your address to see where to vote, as well as other links and resources. I suggest actually going through your ballot, where you will be asked to claim your party in order to get personalized information on candidates and the issues they are addressing. You will see exactly what you should expect to see at your polling place, but with additional facts and statements from the candidates as well. You can also visit other sites such as ballotpedia.org and rockthevote.org to get accurate and unbiased information on the elections.

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Stay informed! Exercise your right. Show support to issues you care about. And most importantly, make a difference. The polls are open until 8PM, so GO VOTE!

Thanks for reading.

*In a year of record midterm turnout, 

women continued to vote at higher rates than men,
 
and there were historic highs in 2019 across
racial 
and ethnic groups, according to Pew Research Center.

5 Reasons to Watch Pete Buttigieg

PeteEverything that I know about Pete Buttigieg so far has made me a fan of his. As we get to know more and more about the candidates participating in the upcoming elections, Pete is someone from whom I am definitely excited to hear. Here are just some reasons why:

 

chasten1. His Husband 
If Pete were to be elected, this would make him the first openly gay president! This would be a huge milestone for the community, and an amazing push forward for our country. Not to mention, Chasten would make an amazing First Gentleman … or whatever they plan on calling it. They are adorable, so are their dogs, and I am here for the representation.

 

unite2. His Platform
In a time when our nation is divided in such an extreme way, Pete is focusing on what we have in common, and running his platform with the focus on uniting the U.S.. There is so much more middle ground than anyone realizes, and Pete intends to use those common areas to attempt to unify the country. Many other candidates are running on the idea of “fighting the fight”, while Pete is looking to make peace again.

 

military3. His Military Experience 
Pete proudly brags that he has more military experience than his running mates, and many previously elected presidents as well. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2009, and was deployed in Afghanistan in 2014. He continued to serve as an intelligence officer until 2017. As a potential future Commander-in-Chief, military experience and leadership is obviously extremely important.

 

political4. His Political Experience
While a lot of people did appreciate that Trump did not come from the typical political background, there are others that argue that this experience is vital to the success of a leader in office. Pete has been involved in politics for the majority of his career, and he is currently the mayor of South Bend, Indiana (and has been since 2012). It doesn’t hurt to mention that he is a Harvard College graduate also.

 

personality5. His Personality and Charm
While he is a responsible, stand up politician, Pete is also not afraid to have a good time. He has shown his personality throughout the beginning of this campaign, including doing a fun sketch with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. He knows how to appeal to multiple audiences, and can be trusted to be authentic in various settings. As a millennial, I’m on board.

 

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I read most of this information from the TIME article that highlighted his campaign, which I definitely recommend checking out. He has also made appearances on other late night TV shows and has had various other press coverage as well. I intend to keep my eye on Pete as he continues to move forward with his political efforts, regardless of where they make take him. You can learn more about Pete by visiting PeteForAmerica.com or following him @pete.buttigieg on Instagram and @PeteButtigieg on Twitter.

“It’s time for a new generation of American leadership.”

Thanks for reading!

 

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

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I hadn’t read A Wrinkle In Time since I was a kid, so when Disney made the movie, I wanted to make sure I reread the book before seeing the film. I couldn’t recall most of the story from memory, and the only thing I could remember was the actual concept of a “wrinkle” in time. I can vividly remember my aunt explaining this idea to me when I was young, using a string to show the visual that was drawn out in the book.

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I am somewhat amazed by the vocabulary, especially in the beginning, given that the target age group is 10-14. The story starts off slow and is very vague and confusing, but maybe a younger audience is more okay with unanswered questions and unexplained details. This could also be a result the year we live in, where we lack patience and are used to instant answers. Since the book was published in the 60’s, where fiction often followed the natural literary story arc, it takes a long time to build up the plot.

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There’s a lot of room to create the visuals using your imagination as a result of this vagueness. I’m happy for this reason that I reread the book prior to seeing the film, so that I could compare my thoughts to the images in the movie. I could actually distinctly remember from when I was younger, reading when they went to the two dimensional planet. It was almost something I could conceptualize, but a lot of the talk of a “fifth dimension” was hard to visualize in my head.

The traveling to different planets was some of my favorite parts of the book. Camazotz is one of these planets, where everyone behaves perfectly and accordingly – or else. These different worlds, places and dimensions opened up my mind and imagination when I was younger, and was fun to revisit as an adult. Certain parts of the book got a bit wrinkle1goofy, which reminded me that this was written for the 10-14 age group. Even the names of Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit are goofy in and of themselves. Also, if they are in fact misses, where are the misters?

Prior to seeing the movie, I knew the cast included Reese Witherspoon and Oprah, so as I was reading I just assumed they were a part of the ‘Who, Which, Whasit’ crew. a-wrinkle-in-time-gets-four-brand-new-postersI was correct about my casting predictions – Reese played Mrs. Whatsit, to my pleasant surprise Mindy Kaling played Mrs. Who, and Oprah of course played the wise and knowledgeable Mrs. Which. The movie actually starts out with a scene that includes the dad (oh why hellooooo Chris Pine!), but in the book the dad has already gone and been missing when we start the story. Another small difference was that Charles Wallace was adopted in the movie, but that was not a plot line in the book. However, that could have been just a way to explain the casting choices. 

There are some more minor differences from the book to the movie, but nothing too major. They sort of combine “the black thing” into just Camaztoz and IT, throwing all the evil into one world and one thing rather than several dark planets and forces that are listed and visited in the book. The Happy Medium is also female in the original story,  but in the movie not only is this character male, but it also turns out he might be ‘Mr. Whatsit’, or at least an interest of the Mrs. (She doesn’t like labels.) urielI was honestly happy to see a version of the story where Meg was not so hard on her father, rather than in the book where she is continuously disappointed by his choices once he’s found. It was a minor change, but one that I appreciated. The adventure in the book ends abruptly, but we get a little more of a wrap up and conclusion in the films. The visuals were amazing and beautiful, of course, creating a sense of wonder in true Disney fashion.

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I will say that given the time period, it’s awesome to see a notable piece of literature that has a female protagonist, and has stood the test of time. Meg is not just there to look pretty and obey – she is unique and defiant and sure of herself in a way that is relatable. I think she is a wonderful character and role model for young kids, and hopefully the movie as a whole allows kids from different backgrounds to see themselves in one of the children in the movie.

MV5BMjMxNjQ5MTI3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjQ2MTAyNDM@._V1_Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time is currently available on Netflix, and can also be watched in a variety of other places as well. The book by Madeleine L’Engle is available wherever books are sold, as well as many others by the author, as this adventure goes on. This is a great story for both kids and adults, and is sure to reawaken anyone’s sense of wonder and imagination.

Thanks for reading!

5 Reasons Why Lizzo is EVERYTHING

Lizzo is a powerhouse of an artist, of an icon, and of an overall human. She’s been making music for years now, but is now topping charts and making some serious moves with her career. She is for sure one to watch, and I have no doubt that she’s going to start taking over. You’re going to want her voice in your ear, trust me.

Lizzo is absolutely amazing, she is everything, and here’s why.

 

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1. Her New Album
If you haven’t listened to Lizzo’s new album “Cuz I Love You”, start streaming immediately! This dropped on April 19th and has been rocking the charts since. Her voice is so smooth and her music is upbeat, fun, and the best feel good music that’s being produced right now. The beats, the lyrics – she’s incredible. Though it’s not one of her new hits, “Truth Hurts” is really a killer song, along with “Juice”, “Soulmate”, “Like A Girl”, “Exactly How I Feel” .. okay all of them are amazing. Playing on repeat.

 

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2. Her Body Positivity  
Lizzo rocks her body, regardless of not looking like the standard supermodel. She often posts pictures on social media where she bears it all, and loves to have nude shots on her album covers. Though she may be “plus size” – ZAMN is she beautiful. Smooth, silky, pretty, and clearly someone to look up to as well. She loves herself and wants everyone else to know it, and to love themselves too. She’s incredibly stunning and intriguing to look at, and I am here for it.

 

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3. Her LGBTQ Support
Lizzo came on my radar through different LGBTQ content that I follow, and she is a huge ally for the gay community. She shows up for pride events, includes gays in her crew, and throws support whenever she can. A lot of her music is iconic in the gay community, and her sassiness is a trait that I hope rubs off on me as a result of listening to her music. Werk, queen.

 

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4. Her Black Girl Magic
This performance was truly iconic, especially for women in the black community. While singing her single “Juice” on Jimmy Kimmel, she got her hair braided and a pony tail put in on stage. She then continued to dance and swirl it around while it of course stayed perfectly in place… a queen. She also throws mad love to other strong black women in the media, such as her Coachella moment with Janelle Monet or her Insta-love for Tracee Ellis Ross. I appreciate that she supports other strong black women and continues to lift them up. 

 

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5. Her Movie Endeavors 
Lizzo is now breaking out of her box and will be starting in an upcoming animated movie!!
Ugly Dolls is about the towns of Uglyville and Perfectown, where the dolls learn that they don’t have to be perfect to be amazing. This movie has a huge huge huge star cast, including Nick Jonas, Kelly Clarkson, Bebe Rexha, Charli XCX, Emma Roberts, Janelle Monae, Blake Shelton, Gabirel Iglesias, and more. I’m so excited for Lizzo to bring her personality and energy to the big screens in this adorable animated film. Ugly dolls will be playing in theaters everywhere starting May 3rd, so go get your tickets!

 

For more of all things Lizzo, visit cuziloveyou.lizzomusic.com or follow her on social media, @lizzo on Twitter and @lizzobeeating on Instagram.

Thanks for reading!

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

judy blume2I read last November in Entertainment Weekly that Judy Blume has finally sold the film rights to her famous book, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. Since I’m in full swing of my reading kick, I got ahead of the game prior to hearing anything about the film being in motion. To be honest, I can’t remember if I read this book when I was younger or not. I definitely read other Judy Blume books growing up, as she’s wildly popular for the age group. Disregarding the title, my knowledge of Judy Blume had me believing that this would be a story of a young girl starting to grow into a teenager. While that is definitely still a theme of the novel, religion is also the major discussion.

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Margaret doesn’t have a religion, as it has created outstanding problems for her family. Her father was Jewish and her mother was Christian, and both of their families had strong opinions on the matter. As a result, Margaret is told that she could decide for herself when she got older. And yet, she finds herself talking to God in the way that a young girl might write in her diary. As a part of an independent school project, she starts to explore different faiths by attending different places of worship with friends. We watch Margaret try to navigate this difficult subject on her own, while also being pulled in a variety of directions from her family.

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Naturally, Margaret and her friends also navigate growing up items for girls such as their first periods, stuffing their bras, and kissing boys at their class supper parties. Most of what Margaret is trying to learn here leads her back to her discussions with God. She prays for her breasts to grow; she prays to not be the last of her friends to menstruate. She communicates with God regularly, but says she cannot find him in religion. She only feels him when she is alone.

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The relationships between Margaret and her family prove to be the most interesting. She is close with her Grandma, who treats her a lot like an adult. There’s also a lot of tension created as a result of religion. This is heightened when Margaret’s other grandparents come to visit, ruining her spring break with her Grandma. These grandparents have not spoken with Margaret or her parents for over 14 years, as a result of a disagreement on religion. Naturally, during their visit, a fight breaks out on the subject.

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It’s honestly satisfying to see a child be right and adults be wrong about something so serious and profound as religion. In Margaret’s self discovery for faith, she is exploring options and seeing where she feels God. She is reaching out in times of need, questioning things happening around her, and wishing to be the best version of herself. To me, that’s exactly what faith should be about. And yet, the adults focus on arbitrary traditions and rules in a way that affects everyone’s relationship to each other. The grandparents push Christianity, the Grandma pushes Judaism, and Margaret’s parents end up pushing NO religion as a result – proving that no one actually wants to let Margaret figure it out on her own.

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I found this topic wildly fascinating, specifically through the innocent eyes of a young girl. You can find Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret anywhere fine books are sold. The cover has been updated many times over the years, and the most recent includes the modern looking text format. Just as an aside, you can also find Are You There Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea, wherever books are sold as well, if you are a Chelsea Handler fan.

Thanks for reading!

Desert Southwest (WildSam Field Guide)

img_3834This little book by WildSam was given to me as a Christmas present, after I expressed interest in relocating to Arizona. Pocket sized and adorable, just like the person who gave it to me, this Desert Southwest Field Guide was just the inspo I needed. That interest turned into a dream, and now a reality, so I’ve finally been able to read through the entire book and dive into the part of the country that I am ready to explore.

The book is a nice recap of information for individual places such as Santa Fe, Palm Springs, Las Vegas, and of course – my future city – Tucson. There are details of each city and state history as well as state facts and famous residents. I was excited by the list of annual festivals and events, as well as travel recommendations and so much more.

img_3832I took some time to dive into the page on Tucson that was published under the “Cities and Towns” section. Since this is going to be my new city, I was filled with excitement reading about the blend of culture and the beautiful foothills to explore. I already can’t wait to see monsoon season, and I am definitely going to try the Mexican/Seafood restaurant recommendation, Penca.

There was also a ton of other cool and interesting information, such as some history of media and films in the desert areas, and a list of outlaws and infamous figures. I enjoyed reading about different landmarks, wildlife and more things that I can explore. The book also included 14 interviews with various local personnel, artists, and writers. Towards the end, there are three short essays that are placed in Santa Fe. One is about the transience of the city, another the journey of exploring on a dangerous hike, and the last mourns the life of a good friend.

For anyone who wants to go exploring, included are several detailed guided road trips img_3833which break down the best routes to travel to the cities that were listed in the book. This gave me some inspiration for where to take some future trips, even if I don’t follow the recommendations exactly. The whole guide is truly an adorable and thoughtful present, very helpful, and got me even more excited to move than I already was. 

“People don’t take trips – trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

Thanks for reading.

https://wildsam.com/desert-southwest

5 Reasons Why I LOVE Tucson, AZ

It’s happening!! Very very soon, I’ll be moving to Tucson, Arizona! (More on that later..) Why? Well, here’s some reasons why Tucson is freaking awesome.

driving1. Arizona has NO DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME! The entire state of Arizona said NOPE and decided to stop moving their clocks forward and backwards each year. Never have to worry about gaining or losing an hour, and it probably regulates the amount of sunlight in the winter a little better.

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2. The food is seriously KILLER. You get the southwest vibes, the Mexican authenticity, and some amazing seafood. And hellooo: IN-N-OUT!!! But the best thing I’ve eaten there so far was a chile relleno burrito… YUM.

bisexual3. Arizona is the state with the first OPENLY BISEXUAL member of the U.S. Senate! Kyrsten Sinema served as a district representative for 6 years before getting elected this year into her current position. She is not only making a milestone for the gay community, but she also is Arizona’s first-ever female senator and its first Democratic senator since 1995.* GIRL YOU BETTA WERK.

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4. There are so many wonderful ROAD TRIP destinations in range! Tucson is only roughly a 6 hour drive to Las Vegas, a 1 hour drive to Mexico, a 7 hour drive to Los Angeles, 7 hours to Santa Fe, 6 hour drive to San Diego, etc. etc. etc. So for someone who loves to travel and is always down for a road trip, this is a dream!

5. And now, the real reason… two words: GIANT. CACTUS. 

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More on the big move later. Thanks for reading!

*Kyrsten Sinema makes history as the first bisexual
member of the U.S. Senate, Arizona's first-ever female
senator, and is first Democratic senator since 1995,
according to NBC News.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

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The Glass Castle movie was released in 2017 and quickly became one of my absolute favorites. I saw the movie originally because of the big name cast, but instantly became immensely intrigued by the ridiculousness of the family and the way they lived. Naturally, when I couldn’t get enough of the movie, I found myself reading the book by the real Jeannette Walls.

FILM-WALLS-QANDAThe book starts out with similar stories that we see in the movie, such as the fire accident while Jeanette was cooking hot dogs, and hospital escapades that followed. Then we hear more about how they move from city to city, including living in Las Vegas and a variety of other cities, which was condensed into a montage in the movie. I quickly noticed the pattern in the book that temporary solutions often became long-term, and the children are usually the ones who suffer the most. 

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The general feel of both the movie and the book are similar, and it’s easy to find times where you want to laugh along with the insane antics and funny anecdotes. However, by the end of the book, I absolutely hated both the mom and the dad. Just like the kids, I grew frustrated by the selfishness of the father’s alcoholism and the mother’s laziness and inability to care for anything other than herself. It’s easy to love Woody and Naomi in the film for their charm and familiarity, but the selfishness of the real individuals was shocking. No matter how hungry the kids were, their father would spend any money he could at the bars. No matter how much money the kids were able to save on their own, their dad would find a way to steal every single penny and drink it down. And even when the kids were able to leave their rundown place in Welch, the parents still followed them to New York City and attempted to mooch off of everything they had made for themselves there.

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Not only does the movie downplay some of the evilness if the parents, it also skips over the development of little Maureen. I feel as though both of these things were done to protect the author’s loved ones on the big screen. I certainly wish the movie had included more on young Maureen in NYC, including when she stabbed her mom before running off to California. However, it was nice to have the parallel of last scene, where they sit down together for Thanksgiving dinner and remember their father fondly, in both the movie and the book.

Jeannette WallsPart of the reason that I was so interested in reading the book comes from one of the real photos that was shown at the end of the movie, where there is a family picture that includes someone that may or may not be a drag queen, or is just wearing a whole lot of make-up. From reading the book, I was actually not able to determine who this person was. I’ve done extensive google searching, and still cannot determine the answer, so if anyone has some information on this subject please reach out to me! (I’ve also sent an inquiry in to Jeannette Wall’s email and Facebook page, so we’ll see if someone replies.) UPDATE: I got a reply from a representative of the company that works with Jeannette Walls! He was able to confirm for me that this was individual is Maureen, which furthers my point that I would have loved to learn more about her path in life after leaving the family back East. 

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You certainly go through a lot of emotions while hearing her retelling of stories, which is much how you feel while watching the film. There are, of course, many stories that make the book and not the movie. Overall, however, it stays true to the message – recounts of funny stories mixed in with some truly sad memories that will make your heart drop.

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If you haven’t yet seen The Glass Castle, it’s currently available on Amazon Prime and probably many other places as well. It stars Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts and is guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings. HIGH RECOMMEND – both the movie and the book.

Thanks for reading!

Flipping the Switch by John G. Miller

FTS 1I was given this book to read as an assignment with my team at work. We were paired up with a partner, and teach pair took a different chapter. Considering the entirety of the book was only a little over 100 pages, I just decided to read the whole thing. And to be honest, I didn’t enjoy it.

While I’m sure the author has had wild success with his books, as he has persistently made clear and evident in his writing, it seemed like half of this book was just marketing material for his other books. He clearly thinks very highly of himself and all of his published works (I mean seriously, I got it the first time..and the second.. and the third.. ), I believe I would have enjoyed this dish more if it was served with a big side of humility.

I don’t much enjoy self-improvement books that convince you over and over why their principles will absolutely change your life in all areas. I’d rather get inspired by words and feel the change rather than have it forcibly drilled into the writing again and again. I also don’t care much for arbitrary stories of successful rookies who succeeded as a result of these ideas. Again, I want to obtain that feeling naturally instead of having it force fed to me. The stories and examples he used were kind of arbirary and random, and didn’t always back up the point he was trying to make.

View More: http://sunprairiefilms.pass.us/john-millerAlmost all of the example stories star what are presumably male names: Bill, David, Bob, Michael.. the male executive on the plane..  There was a  few stories that involved women, but they were still performing stereotypical female roles (like a doctor who delivers children, or women working in pharmaceuticals ). Oh, and he mentions his wife, Karen (but not her profession – only to advertise for his book on parenting). 

FTS 4Those are my biggest critiques for the book. Anyway, the actual principles are simple: cut through the bullshit to get to the true question behind the question, and take personal accountability to get the right answers.

In any case, thanks for reading.

Out & About (Feb 2019)

adp pride 3I am lucky and fortunate enough to work for a company that is very socially conscious and progressive in various areas. My company does a lot of charity work, including giving each employee 8 volunteer hours of PTO to use each year. They give parental leave to anyone who is becoming a parent – which includes fathers, adoption, LGBTQ couples, and more. They also have internal organizations to join to help you feel a sense of community, which includes a Pride organization that publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, titled “Out & About.”*

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There were three key pieces of news and information that was shared in the February 2019 issue of “Out & About” that I wanted to highlight, as they are extremely important milestones in LGBTQ history:

1. LGBTQ Representation in Record Numbers
This was something that I highlighted in my post-election post that celebrated the diversity we had just elected into office, and was also highlighted in the magazine as well. Representation in our government now includes record high numbers of open LGBTQ community members. This year, we swore into office our first openly bisexual Senate member and the first lesbian parent in Congress (making 10 total LGBTQ members overall). Having these perspectives in office can greatly help to provide a more well-rounded basis of legislation, and can better represent the people in which they are governing.

2. Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act
The Governor of New York signed this act on January 25th, which adds gender identity and gender expression to their list of protected classes. This ensures that Transgender and Non-Binary individuals are protected against discrimination in housing, employment, and bathroom access (many other states have already put this in place). New York also passed a law that bans conversion therapy, along with 14 other states who have banned the outdated practice as well. Conversation therapy has never shown evidence of affecting a persons sexual preference, but instead has only proved to have intense damages as a result. As a result of these two changes, New York has made great strides in supporting the LGBTQ community.

3. LGBTQ Inclusivity in School
New Jersey has passed a law that will recognize LGBTQ members of history in middle school and high school curricula. This will show the leaders and contributors of history as well as LGBTQ milestones and perspectives. Having this requirement in classrooms can greatly normalize the community during important and formative years. The law also requires that there is more inclusion for individuals with disabilities. This inclusion to the education in NJ should better represent the world overall and should help celebrate all world perspectives.

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I feel very grateful that my workplace is recognizing some of the same values that are important to me, and celebrating milestones alongside the LGBTQ community. And I hope that more history continues to be made.

Thanks for reading.

*Out & About is an ADP resource intended for internal use only.

Universal Background Checks Bill

tomns.JPGRemember TOMS®? The super cute slip on shoes that would donate a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair of shoes that you purchase? As if this company wasn’t socially conscious enough, TOMS® is now doing even more.

I’m a big advocate for a reform on gun control, hoping that we can live in a world where gun safety is regulated the way automobile safety is. I believe in universal background checks, routine safety regulations, and appropriate training for all guns that are issued. I myself do not want to ever own a gun, as that would make me wildly uncomfortable, but I understand that others may feel differently. On a PERSONAL level, I hate guns. On a REALISTIC level, I just want the proper protocols to be in place.

After all, over 90% of Americans agree on universal background checks.*

Think about all the steps it takes to own a car. You have to study to pass a written test to get your license. Then, after practicing with a licensed adult, you earn your hours and take your driver’s test to get your real license. Then, you update that routinely. You also obtain a vehicle, which is also checked routinely to ensure the safety of you and those around you. While on the road, you obey the laws of the road, and you don’t let others drive your car who aren’t legally allowed to do so. If you break the law and get caught, you’ll get fines and penalties against your license, and could even have it taken away if you do not follow legislation. Now, nothing will ever prevent accidents from happening, but think about how much more chaos there would be if we didn’t have these rules and regulations for automobiles in place. Why do we not have the same routines for gun control? Both are man-made objects that accidentally take the lives of innocent people every single day. Why are they not treated the same?

UBGC 4On January 8th, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would require universal background checks for all gun sales.* The bill is knows as H.R.8, and is a gigantic step for the gun reform movement. This proves that even in such divided times, we still have the ability to agree on basic human issues, and we can affect change.

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In an effort to help push this action, TOMS® has launched a postcard campaign to streamline a way to contact the representatives. By just providing your information via the TOMS® website, you could help take action on this very important issue. Over 720,000 postcards were hand-delivered to Congress as a result of the TOMS® Brand’s effort to make a difference. One of them, of course, was mine!

And now, we can proudly say that the universal background checks bill has been passed in the U.S. House of Representatives!

UBGC 6I hope that this is a historical first step into ending gun violence in the United States. Next stop: THE SENATE! We still have a long way to go, so please remember to vote this November for the representatives that are helping to make the world a better place.

Thanks for reading!

*All information found on the TOMS® website.
Visit https://www.toms.com/ for more information on how TOMS®
is getting involved, how you can help, or to go shoe shopping.

New Tattoos

I’m a big fan of tattoos and already have several small ones, and now I have added tattoos #8 and #9.

These were both tattoos that I had been thinking about for a very long time. The first one, actually, I almost got done in college and didn’t because of last minute plans that got changed. Now almost 6 years later, I finally got it done.

gravityThere are two songs titled “Gravity” that hold a lot of weight to me for different reasons. One is by John Mayer, and the other by Sara Bareilles. The idea of “gravity” allows you to be pulled towards different directions, and can have forces working against you. You may feel a magnetic connection to something and can easily be swayed as a result of it’s pull. We can allow ourselves to be influenced, or we can stop it from keeping us down. Gravity is also what can keep us grounded, and keep our heads out of the clouds. I got the word “gravity” tattooed behind by left ear, as a reminder to be in control of my life and to keep myself grounded. (This was also written in my mom’s handwriting.)

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My other tattoo is on my upper/inner right forearm. This tattoo is of the Libra constellation, depicted by flowers. I always resonated with being a Libra, but the idea of “balance” is something I can’t always connect with. Balance is something I strive for, but rarely achieve, so I didn’t want to get the Libra scale as my tattoo. Instead, there are two flowers, whose blossoms represent the stars in the constellation. This shows that despite expectations, we will bloom where we are planted, but we will grow how we want to.

I’m super super super happy with all of my tattoos and look forward for more to come!

Thanks for reading.

It Takes Balls by Josh Wolf

josh wolf 1You may recognize comedian Josh Wolf from his thirteen years of stand-up, his tours with Larry the Cable Guy and Chelsea Handler, and his TV appearances on My Name Is Earl  and Raising Hope. I discovered Josh through Ross Mathews – they both worked on Chelsea Lately and continued their chemistry on their radio show, He Said, He Said with Josh and Ross. I am now a huge fan of his, an avid listener of his podcasts, and a follower of his comedy. From my first experience with Josh, I found him absolutely hilarious and down josh wolf 2to earth. He certainly knows how to take a joke super far and make you shake your head in disgust, but he also definitely isn’t offensive. He’s a stand up guy, a solid ally, and a great comedian. Josh is from Boston, and often does shows at the Laugh Factory when he is in town. I was able to go to his show last October, where I even got to meet him afterwards and take some pictures. He does an awesome live set, so if you ever get the chance to see him don’t miss out on the fun.

jw 1It Takes Balls; Dating Single Moms and Other Confessions From an Unprepared Single Dad is Josh Wolf’s collection of his own experiences and funny stories. He finds himself, as he is breaking into his comedy career, with 3 kids and questionable help. They made it work, of course, but not without some tales to tell along the way. Josh is hilarious, and I could hear his voice as he recounted the memories. Part of his comedy comes from the fact that he’s just flat out honest, and is able to admit things that other people might be ashamed of. For example, using his kids to get dates, and going so far as to have them call him “uncle”. I was highly amused.

Part of the reason that I like Josh not just as a comedian, but also just as a human, is because I think he’s a really amazing parent. I totally respect his parenting style; he is realistic, yet encouraging and also extremely proud of his kids. This definitely comes through in his book, as he tells stories of coaching his son’s little league team and connecting with his daughter over her first kiss. He may have been unprepared, but it seems like he made out pretty good overall.

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The best part of the book was the stories about taking his buddies to Las Vegas. It starts out with antics to even get the guys on the plane, including involving one of their wives to help out. Cut to everyone taking too much advantage of their solo hotel rooms instead of hitting a night out on the town – which didn’t sit well with Josh of course. He makes up for lost time though, instigating bets and dares and getting the gang into some hilarious trouble. That’s probably the best part about Josh – he’s the kind of person that goes looking for trouble, finds it, and jumps head first into it.