Reevaluating the Resolutions

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[Image: February 2017 calendar with a large border of a multi-coloured flower graphic]. Source.
It’s been 2017 for a month-and-a-half now, and how am I doing with my very ambitious resolutions?

Well, they wouldn’t be New Year’s resolutions if you didn’t break them, after all.

I’d like to go over each one and be brutally honest about what’s working and what isn’t, as well as see if I need to tweak them at all.

1. Stop Watching TV

HA. Okay, to be fair to myself, I did do this successfully for a little while. And then I fell off the horse a little. And then I fell off 16 horses, a lot. Old habits die hard, they say, and this is certainly a habit that requires a hard death. I don’t think the expression works that way, and I’m sorry if that was confusing, but I’m sure you get the gist.

I want to keep this resolution the way it is because I think, for me personally, it is a positive thing to work towards. I know that I can do it – I just have to keep it up!

I think finding other things that relax me but don’t put me to sleep would help. Off the top of my head, I can think of podcasts, YouTube videos, and my dog. Yes, my dog! He’s actually so good at the therapy thing, especially when he tries to nip at my fingers or play chase around the house.

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[Image: Yorkshire terrier laying on a carpeted floor, on tum, head down. Part of a blue pillow next to them. Cloth and closet door behind them].
2. Read Two Books a Month

I think a more realistic goal would be one book a month, given the rate I’ve been going. So far, I’ve read Darling Days, part of The Secret Life of Bees, and part of Parable of the Sower. It was easy to motor through Darling Days because I loved it so much, but I’m a lot slower if I don’t really get into a book. I feel like making my goal more reasonable will mean that I’m less likely to give up on it, and I’d much rather read one book a month than none book a month.

 

Sorry for that wording. I swear I’m not a terrible writer. Actually, no, scratch that, I don’t swear anything.

3. Reach 1,000 Subscribers on YouTube

I only expect to do this over the course of the whole year, so the fact that I’m still sitting around the 300 mark is no big deal.

4. Finish My Degree

I did it!! It’s over!!

I wrote my final exam last week, and it’s super weird to no longer be a student, but also super great. I also made this masterpiece of a video after I finished:

[Video Thumbnail Description: Small fire lit by papers. Darkness all around. White text, which reads, “Goodbye, Sweet Homework” on top, in the centre].

5. Get on a Career Path

Obviously, I haven’t done this yet, but I’m working on it. I’ve already started creating a strong resume and cover letter, as well as applying to a few jobs.

This one is going to take some time still, but surely it will have happened before the year is out.

6. Move Out

This requires employment, which, as I said, I’m working on securing.

7. Finish Writing My Book

I have a different writing project on the go than the one I was referring to in this original resolution, but I’m pretty serious about it and am already a quarter of the way done the rough draft! I was right to think that finishing school would provide me with more writing time, as that’s exactly what it’s done. Looking at it now, this resolution still seems like a reasonable one.

Huh. I had the impression that I wasn’t doing so well with my resolutions, but this isn’t so bad. I’ve already completed one, and am working hard on three others. I only needed to tweak the second resolution, and I’ve only truly failed to follow through with the first. Okay, not bad! And as a plus, I feel re-motivated again.

Yay, resolutions, but more importantly, yay, lists!

Oh, and if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, I committed myself to making two videos a week (Tuesdays and Fridays) on my channel at the beginning of January, which is what I’ve been pouring most of my creative energy into as of late.

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7 New Year’s Resolutions for a Kick-Ass 2017

I’ve flip-flopped over whether New Year’s resolutions are effective things to make. I think it really depends on how you make them, as in, how realistic and specific they are. General resolutions like “be less negative” or “be happier” without more specific goals don’t tend to work too well.

That’s why, this year, I decided to draw up a list of seven resolutions I feel are realistic and specific enough to make happen. Feel free to borrow, steal, take inspiration from, add to, or modify this list when making your own resolutions. I’ll likely make some kind of follow-up post or video in February, as well, to let you know how these are going.

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[Image: Old fashioned TV set on a table, surrounded by antiques. Blue-green walls in the background].
1. Stop Watching TV

I’ve already started working on this one, which is how I know it’s not unrealistic. It’ll be challenging, but worth it, I think. TV in and of itself isn’t bad, but my habits around TV consumption are. I just can’t seem to do it in moderation. It’s all or nothing, and when its all, it sucks up huge amounts of my free time, preventing me from reading, creating, or finding other ways to relax. I’ll still watch with friends and family sometimes, but the solo marathon sessions need to stop.

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[Image: Pair of reading glasses on top of an open book, which is on a Thesaurus. Stack of magazines in the background. Rest of the image is black].
2. Read Two Books a Month

This one is pretty ambitious! It also depends on me following through with the first resolution. I’m actually a pretty fast reader and tend to motor through books, particularly if they’re one of my main sources of entertainment. I may not get to two a month right away, but even starting off with one would be great.

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[Image: Screenshot from the top of Sage’s YouTube channel, showing their banner, profile picture, and how many subscribers they have].
3. Reach 1,000 Subscribers on YouTube

When I first started my YouTube channel, I set the goal to reach 100 subscribers in the first year. I made it to just over 300, which is very exciting! Though I don’t expect to be YouTube famous any time soon, if I keep putting my all into it I think I can reach 1k in the year to come.

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[Image: Shot from above and behind, people wearing grad caps and gowns sitting in black folding chairs].
4. Finish My Degree

I should be writing my final exams at the beginning of February. Then, I’m done. This will be a huge weight off my shoulders and a big accomplishment. Getting this degree has been an uphill battle the whole way. I can’t believe how close I am!

I’m setting this as a resolution in order to acknowledge the accomplishment that it will be. It should happen whether or not it’s on this list, but when I revisit it later, I want to be able to smile at this one.

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[Image: Yellowed grasses in a marsh, trees to the left, grey sky, and a long wooden pathway weaving into the distance].
5. Get on a Career Path

The logical next step after finishing my degree. It may not be the career path that I’ll follow for the rest of my life, but I’d like to find the first stepping stone for a career in something I feel passionate about. I’m already preparing my resume and a little video essay for research-based jobs, which I think I’d love.

Also, YouTube?? I feel like there’s something to that as well, but I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

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[Image: Stack of flattened cardboard boxes tied together, sitting on a table. Shot from the side].
6. Move Out

Once school is no longer in the way and I can start working full-time in a field I (hopefully) like, I should have the means and resources to get my own place again. I dream dreams of a one-room bachelor, and hope to make that happen at some point in the New Year. I’m feeling ready to reclaim my independence.

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[Image: Dusty, old keyboard of a typewriter, shot from above, sitting on a table. Black keys with white lettering].
7. Finish Writing My Book

The rough-draft, at least. This may be the most challenging of the seven, which is why it’s last on the list. Honestly, I think finishing school will really help, because with it I simply have too many things on my plate. If I could wake up in the morning and work on my book rather than a series of assignments, then I’d likely make much quicker progress. Writing an entire book is really, very hard. This one might not happen, but I’m going to try my best!

2016 has been a really hard year for myself and many others, but more than anything, it’s been a year of growth and development for me. I want to continue to use some of the tools I gained this year in the next, and I’m hopeful that some of these resolutions will help to make it an overall better (though perhaps not easier) year. I have hope!

What are your resolutions?

Note: All images are free stock photos provided by http://www.morguefile.com, with the exception of the YouTube screenshot.

Why Do We Like the Show Friends?

Admittedly, I didn’t “get” Friends (1994-2004) for a long time. I’d seen the odd episode here and there and thought it seemed okay, but didn’t think much of it beyond that. I wasn’t exactly the right age when it first started coming out (I was born in 1993), so that may have been a part of it, though I have known plenty of people my age who are fans.

Then, one night, after a particularly grotesque horror movie, my friend threw on a couple of episodes to lighten the mood. Something clicked.

Shortly thereafter, I began to go through the seasons consecutively. I’m currently on seven four and can say that I “get” it now. I’m into it. But why? What is there to get?

Friends shows us the trials and tribulations of twenty-somethings in New York in the 1990s. It really lacks diversity, having an all-white, straight, able-bodied main cast. The issues that the friends deal with are kinda unrealistic and not always relevant for twenty-somethings today. And yet, despite all of this, parts of it hold up.

I decided to make a list of the reasons that I, a 23-year-old in 2016 in my particular position, can connect and relate to Friends.

1. The Theme Song

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[Gif: Ross splashing the friends in the fountain].
“So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s D.O.A.
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear
When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year”

I feel like these lyrics are pretty much timeless. This is what it’s been like, at least for me, to be in your twenties, regardless of whether it’s 1996 or 2016.

2. The Group

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[Image: The six friends sitting together and posing for a photo in a coffee shop, smiling].

Who doesn’t want to have a really tight, supportive, fun group of friends to spend all of their free time with? Who doesn’t have friend-envy of these friends? Ever since high-school ended, I’ve had lots of one-on-one friendships but never a whole group, and even when I have been a part of groups in the past, things weren’t exactly… great. Let’s just leave it at that.

Though they do encounter a little drama and some rough patches over the years, the group remains close and they seem to value their friendships with each other over romantic entanglements, work, stress, or other life issues than can sometimes get in the way. They make time for each other, go out of the way to help each other, and four of them even live in close proximity. In fact, because of the way the show is shot, it seems like they’re almost always all together in Monica’s apartment.

3. Monica and Ross

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[Gif: Ross and Monica dancing together in a club].
Imagine a world where, as an adult, one of your best friends is your sibling, who you didn’t get along with when you were young, AND your sibling fits seamlessly into your tight-knit group of friends. THIS IS PROBABLY THE LEAST REALISTIC THING ON THE SHOW AND I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

Friend + sibling envy.

4. Chandler

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[Chandler yelling, “I’m hopeless and awkward and desperate for love!].
I don’t think it’s debatable whether or not he’s funny. He just is. Though the show has many comedic elements, Chandler is, in my opinion, the best one, and he consistently delivers laughs throughout the series. I’m convinced that, without him, Friends wouldn’t have held together nearly as well. The fact that he, and the show as a whole, really makes me laugh is a huge draw, especially on down days when I don’t find a lot to laugh about.

5. Scary World with Soft, Soft Pillows

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[Image: Rachel on Ross’ back in a kitchen, looking miserable. Ross with his hand on the kitchen counter top, looking stunned].
Though it does touch on some of the more serious themes of coming of age, Friends is mostly an escape from the harsh reality of the world. These characters exist in a world where “I’ll be there for you” really means something. Regardless of what happens, they stick together, support each other, and live in a comedic world, where almost anything can become a one of Chandler’s one-liners. Friends has certain themes that the typical twenty-something can relate to (not knowing what to do with your life, being stuck in a dead-end job, developing independence, being socially awkward, dealing with failed romantic entanglements, etc.), but cushioned by comedy and lightness, so that these things no longer feel big and scary. No matter what happens in this universe, “I’ll be there for you” resounds throughout, which isn’t always true of the real world. You can watch these characters struggle with some of the same things you’re facing without their world ending, and this can offer both a little hope and cushioning for your own.

Or maybe Friends is just pure escapism, which certainly serves its own purpose. Either way, I’m going to keep watching.

I’d like to hear from you. Have you seen Friends? Do you love it, hate it? Do you or do you not “get” it? Is there anything to “get”? Do you have friend-envy? Do you find the lack of diversity disturbing, hard to relate to, or at least uncomfortable? Is there a show running right now that you would say is like a modern-day Friends? Or are there any other shows you’d like to suggest that are similar, but better? I look forward to reading your comments!

Post-Grad Panic Attack

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[Image: Books, oil lamp, bottle of wine, and grad cap lined up on a wooden table]. Source.
Here is a snippet from this month’s patron-only blog post. You can read the rest by becoming my patron here, for as little as $1: https://www.patreon.com/herbdino

If you were to take a look at my resume, you’d see a lot of variety. I’ve had A LOT of jobs. Some good, most not so good.

I’ve done retail, serving, coffee-making, tea-brewing, dishwashing, canvassing, cleaning, tutoring, babysitting…

A lot of minimum wage affairs.

Sometimes, after I quit a particularly rough job, I vow never to get another like it again. “THIS will be my last crappy, minimum wage position,” I say, “The next job I get will be a REAL job that pays decently and treats me well, that will lead to something more, that won’t be another customer-service dead-end”.

And then, for one reason or another, I end up in another don’t-pay-you-a-livable-wage, work-you-to-death position. I think everything is fine for a little while until I wake up and realize how it’s making my soul wither inside.

I am so over customer service, let me tell you. So. Over. It.

But my bank account isn’t. My bank account is SO OVER being a student and it’ll take whatever it can get.

And that’s the problem. I’ve been a student for so long, which means I, one, don’t have a degree to qualify me for a job I may actually want, and, two, am only available part-time, limiting my options to the kinds of jobs I keep swearing off of…

Read the rest of this entry here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/dec-2016-post-7400373

Moran’s “How to Build a Girl” P.1.

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[Image: Green cover of “How to Build a Girl” by Caitlin Moran with a green background].
I have to admit, I didn’t like this book very much when I first started reading it. I had just finished a really incredible book (Cruddy by Lynda Barry, many content warnings), and it sort of paled in comparison.

However, now that I’m 100 pages in, it’s really starting to grow on me. I can relate to the way the main character, Johanna, reinvents herself, as someone who is constantly reinventing my own identity. And though it feels a tad like white feminism at times, the author does touch on issues of class quite a bit, going deeper into that concept as the page numbers grow.

This is one of those books where the story is better than the writing. The writing itself isn’t bad, but it’s pretty simple, which makes for a fast read. It is the opposite of tedious – it is fast-paced, attention grabbing, and often very funny.

I don’t usually laugh out loud while reading, but I embarrassed myself by doing so on my lunch break at work. Johanna can be quirky, ridiculous, and just plain blunt. The fact that the novel is frequently hilarious offsets what I feel is, at times, a lack of depth. It is a lighthearted, fun read.

Sometimes, it is brain candy. And sometimes, it is painfully awkward and touching.

I expect that many with a rebellious streak and a fixation on identity would be able to relate to Johanna.

Oh, and masturbation comes up a lot, so prepare yourself.

Would I recommend this book to a close friend? Perhaps not yet, but I still have quite a bit to go, so I’ll keep you posted on that and give you my full review once I’ve finished it.

2.0

Welcome to the new, improved version of this blog!

I’ve decided that I really want this blog to be a place where I regularly write entries similar to how I regularly post videos on my channel. I’ll no longer be sharing all of my videos as posts, but will be keeping them on their own separate page. I want my blog entries to be their own thing as well as easier to find!

I would like to share personal updates, thoughts on writing, what I’m reading, and some how-to’s on here. It’s going to be the kinds of topics and tangents that I feel are better suited to writing than to videos.

I’m in a transitional point with my writing and my videos (gosh, when am I not?), and so I’ll also be making changes to my Patreon and YouTube channel in addition to this. I hope that you like them! I think that things are going to get even better as we go forward.

A Young Person’s Manifesto for Navigating the World for the Next Five Years or So

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[Image: Grainy picture of Sage, head-to-shoulders, in a black coat. Water and island with rocks and trees behind them].
1. I will prioritize travel over stability even though it is easier to prioritize stability over travel. Whenever possible, I will attempt to travel to faraway lands, explore exciting places, and go on adventures.

2. I will find a way to make some kind of living from my art, even if I am just living for my art. Whatever else may pull at me, such as school or a job, I will know that, above and beyond, at my core, my art is the most important.

3. I will perhaps find a partner but I will not marry them or have children. Marriage is not for me, and children, if they ever happen, can wait to happen after five years or so.

4. I will find a healthy community of friends who are real, true friends and who will become like family. I will go on adventures with these people and I will hold them close. They will be equally as important to me as any romantic partners I may have.

5. I will not commit to anything for more than a year. I have been tied down by high-school and then by university. Eight-and-a-half years have passed. It is time to embrace more freedom than this. Any jobs or places will not hold me for more than a year.

6. I will attempt to expand my compassion for people with radically different viewpoints from my own (from vastly different communities than my own), even if their viewpoints harm me. This does not mean that I will allow them to hurt me, only that I will continue to see them as valuable people with some goodness inside of them, somewhere.

7. I will prioritize my mental health over ideas about “success” and other people’s expectations.

8. I will live a radical, as opposed to conventional, life. I will figure out exactly what that means to me.

9. If I am unhappy and a year has gone by, I will move on. I will not worry about “climbing the career ladder” or working towards a comfortable future. I will move on.

10. I will not get bogged down in a “plan” for my future. I know now that you cannot plan for your future.

 

Note: Other young people, or older people, are welcome to embrace, alter, or otherwise use this manifesto.

This is Art. I am Okay.

I would like to make a video about this at some point, but for now, I’m just going to sum up some of my thoughts here.

YouTuber Abi (Abijean) has made a couple of videos, here and here, addressing this topic, and her and I have engaged in a conversation about it as well, so this is partly a response to that.

But it’s also a response to some of the videos I’ve been making and the feedback I’ve been getting on them.

I’m a very open person. I’m very open on my channel. Sometimes, I can get quite personal and emotional on my channel, and some of the emotions I share can be negative. As an example, I recently shared a poem about being lonely.

I tend to receive comforting words, hearts, hugs, and questions as to whether or not I’m okay when I share something like this. I really do appreciate that people take the time to do that. It’s lovely to be a part of a community of folks who show that they care about me in this way, and to feel to connected to other people through this platform.

But I want to make something clear. When I share something like the above video, it is art. I’m attempting to express myself and connect with other people. I’m not necessarily looking for sympathy or asking for help. If I ever do go to the Internet to ask for help, I will be very clear that that is what I am doing.

This is art and I am okay.

The above poem is true. It is a reflection of my lived experience. The feelings that I share are valid, honest feelings.

However, it is a poem. It is a piece of art. It is meant to be read that way, taken that way.

Sometimes, when I write poetry, I express some of the most extreme, intense, buried feelings that I hold within myself. Things come up in my poems that don’t come up in casual, everyday conversations. Sometimes these things come from dark, suppressed, closeted places.

I think this is completely normal and okay because art is all about finding a way to express what you cannot normally in your day-to-day life. Poetry can help me find the words for something I do not typically have the words for.

However, when I share a poem like “23 and Lonely,” I worry that I’m coming across as too negative, or that I’m “over-sharing”. Some of this may be coming from an internalized place, something that I’m projecting onto the situation, but at the same time, the pressure to always remain positive, happy, and light on social media is very real. I feel like I’m only permitted to make so many videos like “23 and Lonely” before people will label me as too negative, too emotional, too personal, and too whiny.

Because of my conversation with Abi, I know that I’m not alone in feeling this way. In fact, I think a lot of YouTubers, bloggers, and other folks within the online sphere struggle with this, with balancing the negative with the positive, the lighthearted with the serious, and the undersharing with the oversharing.

Part of me just wants to say “fuck it” and share whatever I want, but I’m painfully aware of having an audience now, even a small one, and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t influence the kind of content that I create.

In one of Abi’s videos, she talks about balancing authenticity and keeping an accurate record with thinking about her audiences’ reactions and the fear that one is “being too negative”. She concludes by saying, “Maybe I just put out whatever I want and whoever watches me, watches me, and whoever doesn’t, doesn’t”.

This is the kind of approach I would like to take as well. One of the main reasons I’m on YouTube is to be able to express myself and create art that is authentic to my experiences. Sometimes, my experiences are negative. Sometimes, I’m going to share things that are sad, upsetting, confused, gut wrenching, or just plain angsty. Of course I’ll try to provide content warnings where appropriate, but, fundamentally, this is my journey and this is what I need to share. You’re welcome to come along for the ride if you want to, but if not, that’s fine as well. Of course, I will always appreciate your hugs, hearts, and words of comfort. Always. But know that that is not why I make my art.

I make my art to express these sometimes hidden, hard-to-describe feelings. I make my art to connect with others who may feel the same way. I make my art because this stuff needs to come out somehow.

Please don’t expect me to construct an artificially happy life on here. I’ll try not to expect that from myself, either.

P.S. I should add that I rarely ever judge other people for how personal they get online. For some reason, though, I’m a lot more judgemental of myself.

P.P.S. Taking this conversation further, was YouTube not founded on “oversharing,” in some respects?

Stop Saying “Transtrender”

CW: transphobic slurs, non-binary hate

A few people dropped comments on my channel calling me a “transtrender” and a “tranny wannabe” a couple days ago.

Can you just stop? These are really gross terms. I see them used against non-binary folks all the time, even within the trans community, and it’s really upsetting.

Let’s clear some things up:

  1. I don’t call myself trans, though technically I am. I refer to myself as bigender, gender fluid, or non-binary, but I don’t use trans as an identity marker. I find it weird that people just assume that I do and then attempt to “use” that against me?
  2. BUT non-binary people can totally use trans as an identity marker to describe themselves. If you don’t identify with the gender you were assigned at birth, then you can claim the label trans. Full stop.
  3. Trans folks are more visible now than before. The Internet is allowing for more conversations to happen and for more people to share their experiences, leading to more diverse representation. This doesn’t mean that trans is “trending”. Trans and non-binary folks have always existed. What you may see as a trend is really just more visibility. With more visibility, also, I believe there are more people who may realize that they’re trans and/or non-binary, leading to more folks IDing that way. I know NB visibility certainly did that for me, as the Internet has been a great resource for my gender identity process.
  4. Why would someone “want to be” trans but not actually be trans? I don’t understand this whole “wannabe” thing. I feel like you either are trans or you’re not, and perhaps if you want to be, that means that you already are? I feel like this designates a gatekeeping process, whereby there are “real” trans people and then folks who only just “want to be” trans but are not based on some bullshit restrictions.
  5. These terms position people to have to “prove” their trans-ness and reinforce ideas of  being “not trans enough”. Read a good zine about this here.
  6. The whole “transtrender” thing is often based on the “doing it for attention” argument, which I think is bullshit because a lot of the attention you get for being trans and/or non-binary (especially online!) is extremely negative. For example, sometimes I can’t bring myself to make videos about gender stuff because I can’t deal with the hate I know I’m gonna get that week, and so I do something less “controversial”. As another example, I rarely come out as non-binary in public unless I feel safe, as people can be dismissive, disgusted, or outright angry when I tell them. I don’t “use” my identity to seek out attention, and in fact, I often try to avoid attention based on my identity, as that attention can be scary/dangerous for me.
  7. Hypothetically, even if someone were “just doing it for attention,” what business is it of yours? Who are they hurting? Why hurt them in return? Also, why do you think that you get to decide whether or not it is “for attention”?
  8. I think that sometimes, occasionally, someone will use terms like these in a botched attempt to engage in a conversation about privilege in trans and non-binary communities. I absolutely want to have these conversations, but beginning them with the terms “transtrender” and “tranny wannabe” are not the way to have them.

And finally,

9. My identity is valid. Your identity is valid. No one has to prove shit to anyone, so           stop trying to put people in that position.

P.S. Partly, I feel like there’s little point to writing this as the folks who call me and other enbies these things are likely not going to listen, but, on the other hand, I feel the need to say something. If you’re non-binary and/or trans and you’ve been targeted by this kind of thing, I hope that this post is at least a little helpful. You are valid, you are legitimate, and you are enough. ❤

No More Mondays

Hello, all!

My computer totally broke down on Monday, which is why there was no blog post. I was actually going to write y’all to say that I won’t be doing Monday posts anymore. I will still write on here sometimes, but I think the whole Monday thing has kind of served its purpose.

Essentially, I started the Monday posts in order to make sure I was writing regularly, but now that I’ve started doing the fantasy fiction thing, I’m feeling pretty fulfilled in that regard and would rather spend my writing energy on that. Also, based on the analytics, I happen to know that not a lot of folks read the Monday posts. I’m hoping that means no one will be sad that I’m stopping.

So, yeah, this has been a fun and cool experiment! I’m still making YouTube videos and will publish the YA fantasy fiction on this site September 1st. Occasional blog posts will pop up as well. 🙂

Stay tuned & have a wonderful day!