An Honest Review of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I’ll be honest, when I first started watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I did not see the appeal. I felt that the comedy show was playing into all of the stereotypes of crazy exes, female friendships and not to mention those god-awful musical numbers. But after watching the first season, mostly as background noise while doing chores, I actually found myself genuinely caring about the characters and what was happening. Don’t get me wrong, I did still speed through 90% of the songs every season though.

Premise: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rebecca, serendipitously meets her high school love on the streets of New York as she’s experiencing burnout. He mentions that if she’s ever in West Covina (where he’s from) that they should hang out. Rebecca takes this as a divine sign from above and moves to West Covina, enmeshing herself into his life. 

**SPOILERS BELOW**


What I liked about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend


  • Portrayal of Mental Illness: At the beginning of the series, I’ll admit that I was hesitant about the way that mental illness was portrayed. Rebecca was deemed as being clingy and crazy right off the bat, which as someone who’s been called a ‘crazy’ ex before, that didn’t sit well for me. However, as the show progressed Rebecca was able to grow and not only accept her mental illness but also learn to thrive with it.

  • Complexities of Relationships: We all know that relationships are hard. Sure, there are some out there that have the ideal ‘fairytale’ relationship but for most of us, that’s not the case. Rebecca hopped from suitor to suitor throughout the show, hoping to find salvation with one of them but was never able to. Each main guy, Josh, Greg and Nathaniel, all represent something different for her as do the relationships in our own lives. 
    • Josh was the consummate young love that was never able to develop fully – an idealized love. 
    • Greg was authentic, raw and even uncomfortable at times because he would call Rebecca out all while fighting his own demons- a more adult, but tragic love. 
    • Nathaniel accepted Rebecca, ‘crazy’ and all, while even indulging in it at times – an unhealthy, flawed love. 

  • Real Life Topics – I was not expecting a light hearted show to talk so openly about heavy, life altering topics like suicide, abortions, alcohol addictions, etc. Sure, a lot of shows breeze over these topics – it’s not uncommon. But the way these subjects were approached in the show were refreshing. At many times, I felt like these were conversations that I’d had before with friends or that were intimately familiar. 

  • Gal Pals – Rebecca forms unlikely alliances throughout the show at first to ascertain a better position in Josh’s life; but, ultimately these gal pals become her second family. Paula represents a motherly figure to Rebecca and tries guiding her through the mess that is her life. Valencia, the enemy turned best friend, is as authentic as they come. She knows Rebecca is a mess but also asks her to be a better, higher version of herself. Heather, a one-off experience, adds a level of normalcy to the group – keeping them all grounded throughout the shenanigans. Each friendship goes through a dramatic change during the course of the story – from enabling Rebecca’s behavior to holding her accountable and supporting her to be better.
    • I’m a firm believer in the power of a strong girl group of friends – even though this is something I’ve struggled with maintaining in my own life. 

  • You Don’t Need a Man – The best moment of the entire series was when Rebecca finally realized that she didn’t need a man or relationship, to be whole. She had begun loving herself in a wholly pure way which allowed her to create her own love for herself. At the end of the day, if we’re not actively dealing with our shit, it’ll be hard to find happiness in someone else. 

  • Rachel f*cking Bloom – Talk about a powerhouse of a woman. Bloom, who plays Rebecca in the series, was co-creator and writer on the show. Authentically, Bloom has been diagnosed with anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorders, similar to Rebecca. She also is not your typical main character/love interest – she’s curvy, short and real – something that they portray accurately throughout the show. (See hit song Heavy Boobs from season 2)

I went into this show thinking it was going to be a horrific, hack job of stereotypes but finished the series with a huge level of appreciation for Bloom and the story that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend told. If you’re looking for a fairly light-hearted show to binge through, give this a shot!

Neo-noir & Tech-noir films to add to your watch list

As mentioned a few times, I love films. I’ve spent a majority of my short life watching films and studying them – even majoring in a foreign language in college specifically because I loved French films so much. What I’ve recently realized is that I’m drawn to a very localized type of film: neo- or tech-noir. Neo-noir and tech-noir are a subculture of film noir which lasted from the 1940s-1950s. Film noir was popularized thanks to crime dramas featuring hardcracking detectives and police characters, not to mention the femme fatales. 

So what is Neo-noir & Tech-noir? 

Neo-noir is to film noir, what grunge is to rock. It’s a modernized version of film noir that includes similar themes. Neo-noir and Tech-noir films often feature a post-apocalyptic urban landscape set in the vague future with a flawed anti-hero traversing the story. Other telltale signs can include oversaturation/coloration of the scenes, stark lighting in close up shots (see chiaroscuro lighting) and plenty of violence or tension. In general both genres share a lot of characteristics with French New Wave films, neo-noir is set in the current time/recent past with heavy tones of realism while tech-noir is set in the future and often includes more science fiction tones (robots, etc). 

****TRIGGER WARNING: Rape, graphic violence, gore, abuse, drugs, alcohol, sexual assault, animal abuse

Here’s a list of some of my favorite neo-noir and tech-noir films.


Guns Akimbo (2019) [Tech-noir]

This film was a wild ride from start to finish. Not only was I thrilled that Daniel Radcliffe was in another movie but Samara Weaving really stole the show with her batshit crazy character. Set in a futuristic world where a villanous group streams real life murder as a game online, Radcliffe finds himself thrust into the middle of a seriously fucked up group of people. This film is dark, gory, raw and yet imbued with a strange amount of comedy and growth. 


**Delicatessen (1991) [Neo-noir]

A boarding house sits atop a butcher shop in post-apocalyptic France where fresh meat is hard to come by. The main characters spend their time trying to survive the chaotic building as well as the butcher as people continue to disappear. Creators Jeunet and Caro create a timeless world through their storytelling – a world that is dark, dirty, flawed and intensely saturated.


**La Cité des Enfants Perdus (1995) [Tech-noir]

(From the same creators of Delicatessen) In a topsy-turvy world where adults act like children and children are forced to provide and care for adults, our heros are Un (played by Ron Pearlman), a circus strong man and Miette, a young leader of the orphan children. Un is searching for his lost little brother Denree who was kidnapped by the mad scientist running the city. 


**Ex Machina (2015) [Tech-noir]

Words cannot describe how much I love this film. Aside from fanboying over the all star, kick-ass casting of this film (cough* Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac* cough), everything about this was a masterpiece. Introducing a remote mansion, a beautifully crafted AI system and a helpless low level employee who won a free vacation – what could go wrong? This film will leave you with chills for days if not weeks.


Gattaca (1997) [Tech-noir]

While my mother was a biology teacher briefly, this was her go to film in class to explain genes and DNA. A fascinating science-led dystopia asks many large and uncomfortable questions: what is right? What is moral? How far can science go and still be deemed good? Plus who wasn’t obsessed with Jude Law, Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke in the 90’s? While the gore in this film is minimal and personally afflicted, the cinematography is peak neo-noir. 


Nightcrawler (2014) [Neo-noir]

At times, this film was extremely uncomfortable to watch. A ruthless journalist chases violent acts across the city to be able to be the first to ‘break’ the news on air. With Jake Gyllenhal as the lead, this film encapsulates so much of what’s wrong with humanity: our obsession with gore and depravity in the media. Similar to Guns Akimbo, people tune in to watch the slaughter. 

****TRIGGER WARNING: Graphic violence, abuse, drugs, alcohol


Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)  [Neo-noir]

This is one of my absolute favorite films – not necessarily for the gory storyline, but the acting, cinematography and soundtrack are divine. A nearly neutral, bordering on cool color palette sets the stage for this frozen thriller. There are higher levels of gore in this film than others and harsh juxtapositions between the present and past as journalist Mikael tries to solve a decades old cold-case. Also, Rooney Mara is absolutely iconic in this film. (But I’ll be that person – you should definitely read the books, they’re just as amazing).

****TRIGGER WARNING: Rape, violence, abuse, drugs, alcohol, sexual assault, animal abuse


I’m Your Woman (2020) [Neo-noir]

This film hit me like a train – I love Rachel Brosnahan from her stellar performance in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but I wanted to see how she’d be in a gritty, crime drama – and boy, was it a good film. I had no clue what the premise was prior to watching it and it lived up to every expectation I had. Meet Jean, a new mother married to a con-man, who is thrust into a dangerous journey to self discovery as her husband disappears after betraying his partners. 


Other Popular Neo-Noir / Tech-Noir Films

What’s your favorite genre of film?

. . .

LUSH: Product Reviews

When I moved to Dublin in 2016, I wasn’t aware that I’d succumb to a new addiction– an addiction worse than alcohol or cigarettes.  My name is Zoë and I’m a Lush addict.

You’ve probably heard about LUSH, but if you haven’t, it’s a cosmetic company that sells handmade, 100% vegetarian products which are NOT tested on animals. They also have a black tub recycling program where you can bring in 5 clean black tubs (of any size, as long as it has the sticker saying so) and get a fresh face mask in return.  Not a bad way to promote recycling, right?  And trust me, it is not difficult to collect 5 tubs.

Anyway, I’ve become addicted to these products and the fact that they’re guilt-free since they’re ethically made and very affordable. Since I’ve tried so many of their products, I felt like I should share my opinions on them in case you were wanting to hop on the LUSH train but don’t know where to start.  

1. Mask of Magnaminty

I had to start with Magnaminty, because it is honestly my holy grail. You can get this face mask in several sizes, but I think I’m going to start buying it in the giant tubs from now on because I can’t live without it.  It’s an exfoliating face mask, which zaps away any breakouts you may have or stop the ones trying to creep up on you.  It leaves your skin feeling soft, fresh and oil-free! The 4.4 oz tub is $14.95 and the tub lasts you a very long time (especially the self-preserving formula) because a little goes a long way!

The ingredients in the self-preserving mask include:

Honey , Kaolin , Bentone Gel (Hectorite) , Talc , Glycerine , Ground Aduki Beans (Phaseolus Angularis) , Evening Primrose Seeds (Oenothera biennis) , Peppermint Oil (Mentha piperita) , Tagetes Oil (Tagetes minuta) , Vanilla Absolute (Vanilla planifolia) , *Limonene , Fragrance , Chlorophyllin (Chlorophyllin-Copper Complex)

The ingredients in the original mask include: 

Bentone Gel (Hectorite) , Kaolin , Honey , Talc , Ground Aduki Beans (Phaseolus Angularis) , Glycerine , Evening Primrose Seeds (Oenothera biennis) , Peppermint Oil (Mentha piperita) , Tagetes Oil (Tagetes minuta) , Vanilla Absolute (Vanilla planifolia) , *Limonene , Fragrance , Methylparaben , Chlorophyllin (Chlorophyllin-Copper Complex)


I’ve tried both the self-preserving and the original formulas and both are wonderful.  However, as you can see in the ingredient list, the original formula includes honey.  This makes it much more soothing.  The self-preserving formula does tingle a bit more on the skin, but to me, it’s a nice burn.  It’s like I can feel the mask working!  Therefore, I prefer this one.  If you have more sensitive skin or drier skin but you want to try this mask, use the original formula and only use it every other week!

2. Rosy Cheeks Fresh Face Mask

This mask isn’t something I’d normally reach for.  I’m always going for products which calm down breakouts or balance my oily skin. However, I tried this mask with my friend who was sunburned and wanted to fade the redness in his face. I, also being burnt to a crisp, figured it was worth a shot.  I can definitely say that this mask calms redness! It smells AMAZING– like a bouquet of fresh roses.  It also belongs in the fridge (because it’s a fresh mask) which cools down a sunburn extra well. Since it’s a fresh mask, this means it expires! So if you decide to try this out, make sure you use it up before the use-by date!


Now, I don’t suffer from dry skin, redness or rosacea, but I would assume that this mask would be a great one for you to try out if you do. The 2.1 oz tub is $13.95.

The ingredients include:


Glycerine , Kaolin , Fresh Rose Petals Infusion (Rosa Centifolia) (Rose Petals (Rosa Centifolia)) , Calamine Powder , Rose Clay , Fragrance , Rose Oil (Rosa damascena) , Benzyl Alcohol , Butylphenyl Methylpropional , *Citronellol

I’m unsure if I would buy this product just because of my personal skin needs, but I have zero complaints and it seems to do what it’s supposed to!

3. Aqua Marina Face and Body Cleanser

This was one of my first Lush purchases and honestly, I don’t hate it, but it’s not my favorite.  As mentioned before, I have oily, acne-prone skin.  This face wash is a creamy, moisturizing product, so personally I didn’t get the result that I needed.  I want a face wash that makes me feel SQUEAKY clean.  If you have drier, sensitive skin but also are prone to breakouts, this is probably a better fit for you.


I do have other issues with this product though.  First of all, the smell is not great.  It’s got this clay-like scent as if I’m sticking a handmade vase in the kiln and washing my face at the same time.  It also has large chunks of seaweed in it, which I wasn’t very fond of.  I didn’t think the seaweed did much in the first place, and then the big leafy bits would get stuck to my cheek or forehead and eventually just sit in the bottom of my sink until it eventually clogged my drain. No bueno. The 3.5 oz tub is $13.95.

The ingredients include:


Glycerine , Calamine Powder , Kaolin , Irish Moss Gel (Chondrus crispus) , Organic Aloe Vera Gel (Aloe barbadensis) , Fine Sea Salt (Sodium Chloride) , Nori Seaweed (Algae) , Sweet Wild Orange Oil (Citrus sinensis) , Patchouli Oil (Pogostemon cablin) , Carrageenan Extract (Chondrus Crispus) , Butylphenyl Methylpropional , Hexyl Cinnamal , Fragrance

Overall, I wouldn’t jump to buy this product again.  I wouldn’t totally count it out for everyone, though.  If you think this product would be good for you (say, if you have sensitive, acne-prone skin) I would ask your local LUSH store for a tester. Maybe the smell and seaweed bits won’t bother you!

4. Herbalism Face and Body Cleanser

I don’t want to say that I hated a Lush product, but guys…I hated Herbalism.  This face and body cleanser is marketed toward oily, “troubled” skin and all of the LUSH workers talked it up to me to be the best.  But I mean, it’s on my list of “LUSH worsts.”


This product has a very weird texture, first of all.  It feels almost like wet sand but a tiny bit…creamier? You have to wet your hand, then put the product in your wet hand and work it until it almost turns into a normal consistency for a face wash…but it kind of just dissolves?  I didn’t feel like I was getting any product on my skin, and if I did, it was only in big, sandy clumps.  This also molded over in my shower, which was a bummer since it wasn’t listed as a “fresh” product, but I didn’t care too much because I didn’t want to use it anymore anyway!


The scent is how you would expect something called “Herbalism” to smell: very earthy. It’s not a gross scent per se, but not amazing either. The 3.5 oz tub is $16.95 as well, which is pricey especially since mine grew mold in my shower after maybe a month.

The ingredients include:


Ground Almonds (Prunus dulcis) , Kaolin , Glycerine , Nettle, Rosemary and Rice Vinegar Extract (Urtica dioica, Rosmarinus officinalis) , Rice Bran (Oryza sativa) , Water (Aqua) , Gardenia Extract (Gardenia jasminoides) , Rose Absolute (Rosa damascena) , Chamomile Blue Oil (Matricaria chamomilla) , Sage Oil (Salvia officinalis) , Fragrance , Chlorophyllin (Chlorophyllin-Copper Complex) 

I’m sad to say, but I would not re-buy or recommend this LUSH product. Sorry, Herbalism!

5. Cup O’ Coffee Face and Body Scrub

I love this scrub! It smells like freshly ground coffee– like back in the day when you used to be able to grind your own coffee at Wal-Mart…remember that?? I’ve been recently obsessed with products that help with renewing the glow in your skin or correcting spots in your complexion (acne scars, dark spots, etc).  This product does that!  It’s very invigorating and refreshing and leaves your skin feeling squeaky clean (which, again, is what I look for in a face wash).  It’s also nice for your chest and back if you suffer from body breakouts. The 5.2 oz jar is only $12.95 as well. Talk about a bang for your buck!

The ingredients include:

Organic Agave Syrup (Agave Tequilana) , Kaolin , Glycerine , Coffee Infusion (Coffea arabica) , Talc , Ground Coffee (Coffea arabica) , Bentone (Hectorite) , Fragrance , Vetivert Oil (Vetiveria zizanoides) , Vanilla Absolute (Vanilla planifolia) , Roasted Cocoa Extract (Theobroma cacao) , Coriander Seed Oil (Coriandrum sativum) , Caffeine Powder , *Coumarin , *Limonene , *Linalool 

I will absolutely continue to buy this. However, you’re basically rubbing coffee grounds into your skin, so if your face is sensitive, I’d use with caution!  Otherwise I’m 100% behind you on buying this product!

6. Tea Tree Water

This is simply a toner for oily skin.  I think it’s very refreshing, however I don’t think it’s anything special.  Any toner will do the same thing, but this one is at least natural, cruelty-free and handmade.  So if you want to get the same thing as always but guilt-free,  I’d recommend.  It comes in a spray bottle which is different from most toners, and I feel like you wont over-use the product because of this. The 3.3 oz bottle is $9.95 though, which I admit is a bit steep for a toner.

The ingredients include:

Tea Tree Water (Melaleuca alternifolia) , Grapefruit Water (Citrus paradisi) , Juniperberry Water (Juniperus communis) , *Limonene , Fragrance , Methylparaben

Meh, it’s a toss-up for me on this one.

*–*–*–*–*–*–*–*

I had originally wanted to review every LUSH product I’ve tried here, but since the amount is overwhelming, I decided to only do six.  I hope these reviews help you decide what to buy and what not to buy at LUSH (as well as what to test)! Although there are a couple of negative reviews, I will always stand behind this wonderful company, and you should too!

(All ingredient lists were copied directly from the Lush website).

Finding My Green Thumb

I come from a family of green thumbs. My nana’s house has always felt just a few steps away from becoming a greenhouse with wispy vines flowing down shelves, succulents covering the window sill, and stalks of bamboo or money trees as table centerpieces. My mom has a love of botany and we frequently planted quite successful gardens with her growing up; gardens of pumpkins, tomatoes, sunflowers, and more. Then even my dad’s side, my papaw always had an ever flowing garden of vegetables, typically gathered by my mamaw, my cousins and myself, following which we’d all snap the green beans together.

My papaw also took special care in the front yard landscaping, artfully planting specific flowers in very specific spots. Truth be told, I only assume his landscaping was this meticulous perhaps it wasn’t and he really just planted whatever wherever – but reflecting on a story no one can seem to forget, yet I don’t have the capacity to remember, his planting all had to have been pretty methodical: evidently when I pulled a tulip out of the ground, Easter of 1998, I practically detonated a bomb in the Smith household.

So not only here is evidence of the purple tulip that nearly ruined Easter and ‘destroyed’ my papaw’s meticulously landscaped yard, but here is evidence of me killing my first (and certainly not last) plant.

I didn’t automatically inherit my family’s green thumb. And truth be told, while this has whole “green thumb” thing has always been talked about like it’s either something you have or you don’t, my adult life has taught me that isn’t really the case. Having a green thumb stems from understanding, receptiveness, and a will to learn. If you have those three traits and simultaneously have a desire for some greenery to take root in your space (pun intended) then you can certainly become equipped with a green thumb.

It’s only been since moving to NY in 2017 when I’ve felt this incessant need to bring an abundance of plants into my home. I also was given the responsibility of “mothering” the plants in our office, which I excitedly took it on. I quickly began boasting that I come from a family of green thumbs, telling people to watch these babies thrive – when suddenly, they all started to die. Everywhere, in rapid succession. In the office I was killing an orchid a month or so on average, succulents were drying up or even getting floppy and it was all just a disaster to be honest. It took one of my colleagues with an exceptional green thumb of giving me some succulent pointers like, “Water only when the soil is completely dry, and when these little leaves fall off stick them back in the soil – they’ll grow.” Then with the orchid, another colleague said to water them with ice cubes only.

These little tips and tricks were working, I was incredibly receptive not only to the advice, but I in turn began understanding those plants a bit more. It was great. But then I became ballsy and got involved with different plants that I would go on to kill (herbs, aloe, and air plants I’ve not synced the vibe with yet.)

But if you’re someone like me who so desperately wants to have green vibes in your space, but you haven’t quite solidified your green thumb enough to be confident in your plant choices… I got you. Below are some ways I’ve greened up my space while managing to minimize my casualties.

Bamboo

I invested in one stalk of bamboo as a trial run this summer. I was shopping with my mom at Home Depot, actually looking for some herbs that I could start growing but then would subsequently kill a month later, when I came across this guy and his brethren.

Why did I buy him?

On his little tag, there was a breakdown of the meaning behind the number of stalks you have and what they bring to your life. It only listed the meaning of up to two stalks: 1 Stalk = good fortune and 2 Stalks = love. But really the more you buy, the more meanings there are behind them, I later discovered.

Your girl just wants some good fortune, and not really in the mood to tempt fate with killing not one but potentially two stalks of bamboo.. so I went with just the one. And it’s been successful! He’s super low maintenance, I just keep him on my window sill, change his water and clean the vase every week or so and he’s golden. Golden, growing, and makes me think I could maybe handle taking care of a fish…

Succulents

Alright, I am well well aware that there are different types of succulents that all thrive in different environments, yadda yadda – but these dudes, whatever they are, I’ve somehow managed to keep alive for like three years.

When I lived in Chinatown, around the period when I was killing plants about as fast as I’d buy more, I invested in this fun monthly box, Succulent Studios, and they would send me 2-3 succulents a month. Which was great, but I kept this subscription for quite a while… totaling in some 20 succulents or so.

And I killed all of them except these two. Honestly I think they’ve been near death a handful of times but I’ve somehow revived them.

The trick is to just simply not overwater, maybe decide on one day a week where it’s watering time and that’s the water they will thrive on, make sure they’re in a spot with decent sunlight too.

You’ll also notice there is an air plant lying on that same platter. I’m pretty sure he’s dead.

Dried & Fake

Whenever I feel the need to buy fresh flowers for myself, I always buy eucalyptus and baby’s-breath. Not only for their refreshing scents and subtle decor, but because they dry really well. If dried in a space with little sun, they’ll even maintain their color perfectly. I’d also like to note, I don’t do anything special for the drying, I keep them in the vase and boom, works great.

I also really love the smell of lavender and I found that you can buy dried lavender from Amazon and it’s awesome – there’s so much and it comes packaged in pretty paper, definitely a great, albeit messy, investment.

Amazon is also a great source for other fake greenery, it’s where I got that ivy you see hanging in the photos and also the eucalyptus mixed with the lavender in the three vases is fake as well (the eucalyptus in the lone black vase is real and dry.)

. . .

Ultimately the biggest piece of advice I can offer you is to understand and accept that every plant can die. While there are no magical plants that simply can’t be killed, there are plants that are just harder to kill. So if you want to dive into the plant world, the green life vibe, but everything you touch dies… take it one step at a time. Get one or two real plants to attempt to keep alive (team bamboo over here) and then buy some fake plants off amazon.

Basically, fake it till you make it.

. . .

What I’ve Learned From Supernatural (So Far)

So I know I’m late to the party – 15 years late – but I’m here. Over the holidays, my partner and I decided to start binging Supernatural. Admittedly, I’ve avoided getting involved in this show mostly because I witnessed first hand how crazy intense the Supernatural fandom was online (hello tumblr days). But I’m no stick in the mud, so I finally caved and began watching the show ad nauseum.


This is What I’ve Learned (So Far)

**SPOILER WARNING**


  1. This is not a show built for marathons – In just over a month, we’ve managed to watch five full seasons of Supernatural – a whopping 120 episodes roughly – and boy was that hard. About season three, we were able to accurately guess the dialogue before it happened and could laugh about how lackluster it was. This show was designed to be watched episodically – week by week, year by year.
  1. Not all deaths are created equal – Like in Game of Thrones, it’s important for regular characters to have a good, satisfying death and I assume it’s the same in Supernatural. Bela, one of the regular secondary characters, had one of the most disappointing deaths so far. So much so that I actually had to google and make sure she was actually dead. Ruby, on the other hand, could have had a more drawn out death sequence because she was the WORST.

  2. Sam and Dean are kind of dumb – Hear me out. Sam was fooled numerous times by cute-but-demon-or-evil girls (Ruby, Bela, Lilith) and he’s the one who went to college! Dean, bless him, is a simple man who thrives on simple pleasures – beer, meat and ladies, but still knew right off the bat that Ruby was bad news. Both boys found themselves in stupid situations multiple times throughout the seasons – primarily because of their stupidity for each other.

  3. Bobby is the best hunter – Hands down, Bobby is the only hunter worth a shit and this is shown again and again throughout the show. While he does get a fair amount of screen time, it’s always as the plucky sidekick. In season five, Bobby singlehandedly expels a demon out of his own body while possessed and NO ONE cared for more than a few minutes. That is some badassery if I’ve ever seen it.

  4. Yellow Eyes is scarier than Lilith – Yes, Lilith was awesome and I wish we could have spent more time delving into her character, but Yellow Eyes – what a villain. Carried through six seasons on loose lore, occasional sightings and a burning hatred, Yellow Eyes was the villain that kept giving. As new villains and characters were introduced, I kept coming back to Yellow Eyes and wishing that he would join in on the fun again.

  5. An actors rite of passage – I am fully convinced that at some point if you were trying to become an actor in the 2000’s, you ended up having a cameo on Supernatural. Half the fun of watching the show is going, ‘Oh hey, that’s so-and-so from (insert show title)’ or whichever show. From Jared Keeso of Letterkenny to Dylan Minette of 13 Reasons Why to Ashley Benson of Pretty Little Liars – everyone has been on this show.

  6. When in doubt, salt and burn the bones – For the first few seasons, every ‘evil’ encountered was able to be remedied by you guessed it – salting and burning the bones. It’s kind of up there with how every person sick on ‘House’ always seemingly had lupus at first. Obviously as the villains and demons started to become stronger and crazier, the methods had to change, but when in doubt, salt and burn the bones. You’ll probably be okay. 

While I am only a third of the way through the series, I’ll continue updating as new points come to light. If you’re looking for something lighthearted and fun to turn on in the background while doing laundry, this is not it. But this show can help pass the time regardless.

Literary Wellness To Pass The Time

For those aspiring toward self-betterment, or those simply looking to cope with mental illness: keep reading. When I moved to the ‘big’ city, I left my therapist behind. After switching companies twice and health insurance three times, I never found a new one. Maybe it’s social anxiety, maybe it’s laziness. Who knows. Instead, during an especially desperate, depression-spiral induced shopping trip to Barnes & Noble two years ago, I started buying self-help books. These are the ones I’ve found and what I’ve learned from them.


First, We Make The Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety by Sarah Wilson

This was the first self-help book that I purchased in my shopping trip of desperation and it’s also the one that’s been the most impactful. This book helped me reframe my depression and anxiety – my beast – into something that wasn’t so intense and scary. Wilson uses her own life for the spine of the story, sharing what’s worked and what hasn’t in her experience. But most importantly, anxiety and depression isn’t showcased as some supernatural horrific, plague-like thing. It’s just a part of you, something that can be made livable, or even beautiful.



Unf*ck Your Brain by Faith G. Harper, PhD, LPC-S, ACS, ACN

This book was a secondary purchase just in case the FWMTBB:ANJTA didn’t work out. Unf*ck Your Brain looks at what causes our brains to go ‘chemically batshit’ which results in anxiety, depression, you name it. If you prefer hard facts, straight to the point, no bullshit formatting over personal storytelling, then you should try this book out. I felt like this book gave me a good foundational knowledge on the ‘why’ behind the feelings, which is just as necessary as knowing how to work through them.


Emotional Detox: 7 Steps to Release Toxicity and Energize Joy by Sherianna Boyle

I purchased this book on a whim without reading the back – I thought the front cover looked interesting enough. I only started reading it after realizing that a friends’ emotions were causing sleepless nights and emotional stress for myself. This quick read is packed with useful information as well as a C.L.E.A.N.S.E. method for working through your emotions. Boyle, the author, was in an extremely emotional and traumatic point in her life when she began writing the book which made it easier to relate to. I think that it’s never too late to learn how to cope or deal with emotions.


Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

This book is a part of the design-thinking phenomena created by Burnett and Evans at Stanford. Formatted around the idea of ‘reframing’ your thinking to create a life you enjoy and like, it’s a good tool for those who may be more apt towards ‘workbook’ type learning. There are small prompts, check-in dashboards and more to help you stay on track towards creating a better life. While I’m ultimately not a fan of ‘feel good’ books like this, it was an interesting read and did help reframe some destructive thought patterns. I think that creating physical dashboards for love, health, play and work can help to keep you focused on your goals.


What’s your favorite feel good book?

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Duck

Recently I read Mark Manson’s book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. I practically inhaled the book in just a few short days, and honestly I’m shook. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what I read, because I devoured it like a bomb burrito – so quickly I didn’t even really comprehend what parts of the burrito were actually the game changers, what I should factor in to my next burrito creations.

(I’ve been on a burrito making kick recently, so bare with me on this analogy.)

But alas, some things clearly stick subconsciously. For example, when trying to recreate my bomb burrito, my hand reached for garlic powder out of reflex, and it was in that moment it clicked that I had put garlic powder in that burrito last time on accident… but it was bomb. And then today, I was scrolling on my Facebook timeline and some people from high school were getting too personal (again). It was so annoying, I was two seconds from sending screenshots to one of my friends so that we could essentially poke fun at these people… but then I took a pause and thought, “Who gives a duck. They want to post this, that’s their business – no need to make it mine.” I then went about my business, sans screenshots, sans gossip, sans ducks.

Hehehe GIF by memecandy - Find & Share on GIPHY

Here is when it clicked – the book did something! I’m actually listening to Mark Manson’s advice, whether I realized it or not – yay! Cheers to growth, motherduckers!

Ultimately, Mark’s book wasn’t about not giving a duck about anything and living a carefree life, it was quite the opposite. It centered around the fact that you have to give a duck about things, but you should be selective and thoughtful with your ducks. In turn, this thinking then enables you to think about problem solving differently – what do you truly give a duck about? Why do you give a duck? Does it make sense to give a duck?

Question every problem you have like you’re a child aka – “But why?” yourself into oblivion.

It’s stripping down a problem to such bare bones, that you can then face the root of the issue, the true reason why you’re giving a duck. Nine times out of ten, when you strip down a problem like that, you’ll realize how dumb it actually is and how you’re probably responsible for the problem itself. Actually, Mark will tell you that you are responsible for your problems – every single one of them… but that’s a whole other topic.

Anyway… when you start stripping down problems, a realignment of priorities and values can take place. This enables you to shift your outlook and erase pointless problems. Next thing you know, you’ll find yourself actively withholding your ducks from things that no longer align with you. And trust me when I say you will feel really good about that.

Overall, if you’re looking for a read that will give you a bit of a wakeup call, something that will challenge your comfortable way of thinking… You’ve gotta get your hands on this book ASAP.

“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”

Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

. . .

Movies with Kick Ass Soundtracks

And I’m not talking musicals. Soundtracks are a crucial backbone to films, a way to engage the audience and let them relate on a subconscious level. Throughout high school and college, I worked at the local movie theater in town. One shift, called ‘Door’ or ‘Doorman’, was responsible for cleaning theaters after each showing was complete (among other things). This ultimately meant a front row seat to the credit soundtracks on every movie as well as the ability to pop into every theater during the film to catch bits and pieces.

Here are some of my favorite films/soundtracks.

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)spooky, dramatic, ethereal and full of longing.

Not only was the film a masterpiece in many ways, the soundtrack really brought it to the next level. The closing credit number was ‘Breath of Life’ by Florence and the Machine and boy – was that a banger. Besides some amazing graphics, the pairing of Florence with this moody, fast tempo bop was pure genius.

Anna Karenina (2012)timeless, playful, enticing and full of passion.

This is one of my favorite films of all time but the soundtrack is what truly makes you fall in love. The storyline, adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s 1878  novel of the same name, is an explanation of the common themes in life: hypocrisy, jealousy, faith, fidelity, society and progress to name a few. If you’re a fan of Kiera Knightley or period pieces, you’ll probably notice a familiar filming pattern and character groups in Anna Karenina – it was directed by the same director of Pride & Prejudice, Joe Wright.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)dark, moody, intense and melodramatic.

This film is not for the faint of heart – nor is the soundtrack. This soundtrack is dark, bleak and moody just like the film, starting out with a killer intro introducing an alt version of the Immigrant Song. (Trigger warning – the intro is intense, graphic and has strobe effects). I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent just thinking about this intro and score. 

The Hunger Games (2012)realistic, foreboding, rustic and folky.

While I am not a fan of the Hunger Games series, I can’t deny that this soundtrack is great. Specifically, one song: Safe & Sound by Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars. I mean, it’s just jaw dropping. This was the first song to play during the credits and let me tell you – I scream-sang this song every single time. It’s a song that just gets under your skin.

Honorable Mentions

Atomic Blonde (2017) / Suckerpunch (2011) – These two films have a few overlapping songs on their film scores, which is why I wanted to give them an honorable mention. I’ll be honest, I was not a fan of Atomic Blonde – the score in the trailer made me think it was going to be much better of a film than it actually was. Suckerpunch on the other hand is one of the most jarring and ‘mind-fuckable’ films I’ve seen and I truly did enjoy watching it. 

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – Really anything directed by Wes Anderson is going to have an eclectic and unique score. This is not a score I’d listen to all the time, but it’s still a fun one to turn on in the background. Alexandre Desplat is the man responsible for crafting each unique, timeless score for Anderson’s films. While similar in theme or type, the scores are presently true to each individual story.


Game of Thrones (2011-2019) – Composer Ramin Djawadi is a genius, without argument. Scoring a show is difficult no doubt, but scoring a show that runs for nearly a decade? Unthinkable. His scores are unique, effervescent and transcending. As soon as you hear one of his scores, you’re immediately transported into that moment in the show. Plus, he cleverly reused the intro theme multiple times in different ways.

Less than 5 Ingredient Holiday Treats

Who doesn’t love a good cookie?

Crazy people. Or boring people.

Who prefers the idea of baking cookies, to actually baking the cookies?

Most people.

Well friends, I like baking cookies but only if they’re quick and easy, and as long as I have most (preferably all) of the ingredients already in my cabinets. The past couple of years I’ve baked cookies for friends/family/work and each time I get the, “Woah you actually BAKED these cookies?” to which I respond with a, “Yeah but they’re super easy. Like genuinely easy, not Ina Garten easy.” Being the nice person I am, I also breakdown the recipes for everyone as proof that the cookies really are that easy.

So to spread some yummy cookie cheer, I’ll share my minimal ingredient secrets with you all!

Peanut Butter Cookies

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup of peanut butter
    • 1 cup of sugar
      • Regular white sugar for a smoother cookie, but if you like a crumblier cookie with a heartier texture use sugar in the raw – I personally prefer sugar in the raw’s cookie texture! Tastes grittier because the sugar doesn’t fully dissolve in the baking process.
    • 1 egg
  • Instructions:
    • Preheat oven to 350° F
    • Mix peanut butter, sugar, and egg together until completely combined
    • Use a small spoon to scoop out cookies onto baking sheet
      • I always roll them but other recipes say you can do a simple drop too, no roll
    • Pop cookies in the oven for just under 10 minutes
      • If you use sugar in the raw they take a bit longer to cook, right at that 10 minute mark, but if you use regular white sugar those things are done in like 6-8 mins depending on cookie size
      • It’s also best to take these guys out when they look like they need five more minutes. Once you take them out to cool, they’ll continue to cook on that scorching sheet anyway, and you don’t want a burnt bottom
  • Notes:
    • Turn these into “Peanut Butter Blossoms” by adding Hershey’s Kisses on top of the cookies immediately upon removal from the oven. You can use any of the Hershey’s Kisses – I personally prefer the dark chocolate Kisses!

Cool Whip Cookies

Click the photo for a more in-depth look at this recipe!

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 box of cake mix (literally any kind, red velvet keeps it festive though!)
    • 1 8oz container of cool whip (can be the low fat or reg)
    • 1 egg
    • Confectioner’s sugar (only a plate/bowl full will be needed)
  • Instructions:
    • Preheat oven to 350° F
    • Mix together the cake mix, egg, and cool whip until completely combined
    • Form mix into small balls and roll into the confectioner’s sugar until coated
      • The mixture is super gooey, so it’s easier to spoon a drop into the sugar and use the sugar as a barrier between your hands and the gooey mess
    • Bake for 10-12 mins
      • If these guys look like the need five more minutes, let them have their five more minutes. They do all of their cooking in the oven and won’t get much farther once taken out (unlike those peanut butter cookies)
  • Notes:
    • These cookies are soft and a tad gooey, but if they taste super gooey and can’t even easily be picked up without sagging… then they’re not cooked all the way.
    • These are also a bit of a blank canvas cookie and taste great with walnuts or pecans added – whatever you picture vibing with the cake box you’ve chosen! Walnuts and chocolate cake mix cookies go well together from my experience 🙂

Oreo Cookie Balls (no-bake)

Don’t want to bake? Click the photo to go to an Etsy page that sells those EXACT cookie balls 😉

  • Ingredients:
    • Pack of oreos (38 cookies)
    • 8 oz of cream cheese (room temp)
    • 1-2 cups of melting chocolate (either two cups of reg milk chocolate, or one cup white and one cup milk depending on preference/decor!)
  • Instructions:
    • Place Oreo’s into gallon ziploc bag and smash those suckers up. Get out all of your pent up anger from 2020, just take it all out on those Oreo’s
    • Mix together the now cookie crumbs and the cream cheese
    • Melt the chocolate in the microwave (or stove if you’re fancy)
    • Roll the cookie mixture into balls and dip into the chocolate using a fork, then place onto baking sheet to dry
      • The decorating/chocolate coating is easier to manage if you form the mix all into balls and place them in the freeze for 10-15 mins to harden and then coat in chocolate. But honestly it’s not super necessary, if you’re as impatient as me then don’t worry about it. But if you like to do things a bit more… “by the book” place them in the freezer for a bit.
      • The chocolate coating bit is where you can get fancy, dipping half the ball into the milk chocolate, half into the white, or drizzle…etc.
    • Once you’re done coating in chocolate, pop in the fridge for about an hour and they’re good to go!
  • Notes:
    • Other things you can do to make these more fun is coat in crushed candy cane pieces, sprinkles, nuts, etc – literally anything that you think could vibe with Oreo’s… go for it – they’re your cookies!

Sugar Cookies

Don’t want to bake? Click the photo to go to an Etsy page that sells those EXACT cookies 😉

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup of butter (softened)
    • 2/3 cup of sugar
    • 2 cups of flour
  • Instructions:
    • Preheat oven to 325° F
    • Mix together sugar and butter until completely combined
    • Add in flour
    • Mix all ingredients until perfectly combined – get your hands in there!
    • Option to roll out dough and use cookie cutters for fun shapes, or you can simply roll into balls and flatten into a round cookie
    • Add a sprinkle of sugar onto the top of the cookie for a lil sweet pizazz
    • Pop in oven for 14 – 16 mins or until golden brown
  • Notes:
    • These are fun to, of course, coat in icing or sprinkles, but honestly sometimes sugar cookies are best just as they are – simple and sweet.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Don’t want to bake? Click the photo to go to an Etsy page that sells those EXACT pretzels 😉

  • Ingredients:
    • Pretzel sticks or regular pretzels
    • 16 oz of melting chocolate (dark, milk, white – whatever your preference)
    • Toppings of choice (sprinkles, candy cane pieces, nuts, M&Ms, etc.)
  • Instructions:
    • Prep a baking sheet with wax paper
    • Melt chocolate by filling a tall cup, mason jar, etc (something tall that the pretzel stick can be mostly dunked into) with the melting chocolate
      • If you doing smaller regular pretzels instead of rods, use a bowl instead of cup!
    • Heat cup in microwave in 10 sec intervals, stirring and heating until completely melted
    • Dip pretzels into the chocolate, lay out on the wax paper and then add your topping
  • Notes:
    • This can get real messy, real fast – but that’s okay. There are sinks in the kitchen for a reason 🙂
    • It’s also super preference based. Go with whatever your taste is, honestly if you don’t want toppings then don’t put toppings. Simple chocolate covered pretzels are nice too 🙂

. . .

Baking cookies shouldn’t be stressful, if anything it should be a way to put stressful things out of sight and out of mind for a little while. So if you’re someone who likes cookies, but doesn’t care for the whole extravaganza that some cookie recipes call for… try some of the above recipes. If you’re having a small get together or want to make some cookie boxes for friends and family, the above options make such a nice spread that everyone will think you went ham and did the whole grand cookie extravaganza – and it’s not a crime to let them think you made some intricate cookies 😉

. . .

Anime for Beginners

So, you’re interested in anime. Great! While anime gets a faux bad rep, especially when you’re in middle or high school, there are some truly great shows out there that everyone should watch at least once. Whether you’re ready to jump all in or you’re still testing the waters, here are some great beginner anime shows you should try. 


Classics

Naruto / Naruto Shippuden

TW: Graphic violence, intense action scenes, death

Based off of the popular manga, Naruto is the 4th highest selling manga series in history. Both series follow Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja who aspires to be Hokage of his village. This show balances action, drama and comedy through hundreds of episodes. If you’re looking for something to binge in a weekend, this show is definitely not for you at a total of 500 episodes. But if you want to watch a few episodes at a time and really experience the story, then check it out! 

Differences between Naruto and Naruto Shippuden – Naruto is the very beginning of the storyline, while Naruto Shippuden takes place around 2.5 years after the original. The characters are seemingly more mature making the show a little more palatable to older audiences.


Avatar: The Last Airbender / The Legend of Korra

TW: Violence, intense action scenes

Formerly a Nickelodeon show in the early 2000’s, A:TLA and LoK have seen a resurgence in popularity since landing on streaming giant, Netflix. Each show is broken up into four books – or chapters – while the avatar navigates through their objectives. A:TLA follows Aang, the first avatar in 100 years as he battles the Fire Nation, while LoK follows Korra, the next Avatar, nearly 70 years after A:TLA as she modernizes a nation.

While connected, these are two separate shows and each deserve a watch – with A:TLA at 61 episodes and LoK at 51, it’s fairly easy to binge through. Personally, I feel like LoK is a little easier to watch since it follows a more mature character Korra (aged 17) compared to Aang (technically aged 112 – but 100 of those years, he was frozen). 


*Fullmetal Alchemist / Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

TW: Graphic violence, gore, intense action scenes, death, alchemy/magic, war, genocide

This is, and has always been, one of my favorite shows. I originally watched FMA on AdultSwim, eventually rewatching FMA:B when it was released on Netflix. FMA follows the Elric brothers, Alphonse and Edward, as they learn alchemy and try to become State Alchemists. FMA is a steampunk, post-European industrial revolution dream – full of common themes like the seven deadly sins, social discrimination and ultimately, family and brotherhood. Spurring the storylines along is Alchemy’s First Law of Equivalent Exchange – to create, something of equal value must be lost.

Differences between FMA and FMA:B – They are the same storyline, however FMA diverges from the original manga storyline while FMA:B follows it completely. The animation in FMA:B is also better since it was created five years after the original. 


Action

One-Punch Man
TW: Violence, intense action scenes

As the name depicts, One-Punch Man follows the story of superhero Saitama, who grows bored of his ridiculous strength, striving to find a worthy opponent. Set in a super-Earth, overrun by heroes and villains, Saitama has his work cut out for him. Popularized thanks to fun animation and emotive styles of the protagonist, OPM is a fun action packed anime series that functions as a parody to traditional superhero lore; specifically Superman.  


Soul Eater
TW: Violence, intense action scenes

Soul Eater follows a team at the Death Weapon Meister Academy as they try to become a death scythe to be used by the ruler of the school, Shinigami a.k.a. Death. Primary characters, Maka and humanoid-weapon, Soul, battle other meisters as well as the organization Arachnophobia to save themselves and the DWMA. While this is an action heavy show, there is a heavy dose of comedy, often brought by secondary character Death the Kid and his pistol partners, Liz and Patty Thompson.


Fairy Tail
TW: Violence, intense action scenes

Another popular anime, Fairy Tail, follows Natsu Dragneel and other members from the Fairy Tail guild as they embark on adventures and missions throughout Earth-land. This comedic fantasy show spans over 300 episodes, running for nearly a decade. Although the storyline can be a little light in comparison to other shows, Fairy Tail has been a fan favorite across all age groups for the last few years.


Horror 

Parasyte: The Maxim

TW: Graphic violence, body gore, intense action scenes, death

High schooler, Shinichi Izumi, is inhabited by an alien parasite named Migi whose goal was to enter the human’s brain to control the body – however, the plan didn’t work out fully. This horror anime has elements of dark comedy, which make it a little easier to suffer through. The alien race that Migi is a part of is trying to colonize the Earth, by assuming and devouring their hosts bodies. At 24 episodes, this anime is fairly quick to binge, but it can be a little heavy and dark. 


Elfen Lied

TW: Graphic violence, abuse, psychological torture, genocide, nudity    

An absolute favorite of mine, Elfen Lied was also the inspiration behind Eleven/El from Stranger Things. This gripping 13-episode, horror anime explores the idea of social isolation and division and treatment amongst humans.

A graphic depiction of an attempted hostile takeover, Elfen Lied also has a warmth and love imbued into the storyline as well. Following Lucy/Nyu, a member of the newly mutated Diclonius species, Elfen Lied explores the effects of imprisonment, abuse and the darkness within human nature. Hands down, this is equally one of the most beautiful yet disturbing animes I’ve seen. 


Attack on Titan

TW: Gore, graphic violence, cannibalism

After colossal humanoids, called Titans, breach the walls of town, Eren Yeager and friends decide to protect humanity from these monstrosities by becoming a part of the Scout Regiment. This action heavy, dark fantasy anime has a little bit of something for everyone. While there is surely a high amount of death and destruction (and cannibalism thanks to the Titans), this is a very interesting watch. With 59 episodes and 8 additional releases, AoT will take some time to work through. 


Whether you catch episodes late night on AdultSwim, Toonami or CrunchyRoll there is an anime for everyone.

Playlist Fiend: Diet Soda Society

More often than not, I’ll find a song that I love so much, right off the bat, that I need more of that kind of song. Spotify generally does an OK job of “song radios” where it’s like, “Oh, you like this song? Got it. The next several songs will be that vibe. Pinky Swear.” Then the next few songs are that vibe… then it flips and the algorithm glitches or something, and suddenly instead of some smooth R&B, I’m listening to a T-Swift song that someone sub-categorized as R&B.

There’s nothing wrong with T-Swift, I’m a shameless fan – but if I’m in the mood for some Giveon… don’t give me T-Swift. Just don’t. That ain’t the vibe.

Another con to the Spotify “song radios” is that they operate off of Wi-Fi/data. Which can be incredibly inconvenient if you’re not in the comforts of your home Wi-Fi. This con is pretty massive con for me.

So due to my Spotify trust issues and necessity for convenience, whenever I’m struck with a new-to-me song, I instantly deep dive and create my own playlist that echoes the vibes of that song. Another pro to me doing this is not only stumbling upon even more new-to-me songs, but also having the power to put some of my fave bops on there as well. In creating these playlists, it’s actually this insane scouring of Spotify that takes place…

  1. Whichever artist’s song started this manic-playlist-creation, I dive into their Spotify first.
  2. I tear apart their other songs from various albums to see if there are any similar to that one song I now love (usually there is only 1-2 additional songs that maintain the vibe, shockingly enough).
  3. Then I continue down the profile and go through the pre-made playlists that already feature their music, and from those I pluck music by various artists that fit the vibe just right.
  4. Last step is when I scroll down to the “fans also like” section and tear those artists apart… picking jams that fit best.

It’s a whole process to be honest, I can be in the zone for as little as thirty minutes or 2-3 hours, depending on how deep the rabbit hole is and how familiar I already am with the genre. This whole playlist process is almost therapeutic to me, it gives me a weird creative outlet to just dive into with results that keep me satisfied for ages.

The latest song that sent me down the rabbit hole, was Diet Soda Society by The Maine off of their album, American Candy. It came out in 2015, but I’m only just discovering it, five years later, courtesy of my roommate, Zoe!

Zoe and I have been friends for ages, but it was only upon moving in together this fall that we found out that we both have a comical obsession with Diet Coke. Together, we’ve began splitting 12 packs of DC, and finding out very quickly that Whole Foods brand DC is NO BUENO!! It tastes… smoky?

But anyway – back to the whole point of this article…

The other day Zoe had sent me this song (“because DC“), which I quickly became obsessed with. By quickly, I mean, the song hadn’t even finished before I was like, “PLAYLIST MUST BE MADE SO I CAN LIVE IN THIS ANGSTY VIBE FOREVER.

So, checkout my latest playlist: Diet Soda Society and let’s vibe together.

What I Learned Playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons for 300+ Hours

A true gift from this shithole year was Animal Crossing. Originally released in 2001, AC has been popular amongst audiences for almost two decades; releasing in the US in 2002. With over 40 million units sold worldwide and five spinoff games, there is clearly something for everyone to love and learn from Animal Crossing. 

The newest game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, released worldwide in the beginning of 2020 on the Nintendo Switch, eight years after the previous AC game release. A perfect storm of social distancing and much needed entertainment brought AC:NH to new heights, with over 5 million downloads in the first month alone. So what’s so great about this game?

First and foremost, I am not an avid video game player nor am I a good video game player. I typically get bored after a few gaming sessions, having only completed two games prior (s/o We Happy Few and BioShock!). But I love AC:NH and have spent 310 hours playing over the last six months. This is what I learned while playing AC:NH. 

Game Premise 

You embark on a deserted island getaway and are able to create, morph and design your perfect island over time. You have residents that move to your island, along with shops, seasonal events and more to experience. Thanks to your raccoon overlord, Tom Nook, you start the getaway in debt, but don’t worry, you’re able to pay it off quickly. 

What I Learned

First Homesite; Island 1

Daily tasks are necessary – in the game and life.

As a person who’s struggled with heavy depression on and off for a decade, sometimes the essential tasks like cleaning, laundry or eating can be a burden. In AC:NH, your character is rewarded for doing simple things like picking up sticks, clearing weeds or chopping down trees. Being able to make a character push through mundane tasks made it a little easier to force myself to get out of bed and do laundry.


If you’re unhappy, restart.

New Campsite; Island 1

I spent almost 275 hours building an island which is roughly 12 full days. I received the coveted 5-star rating on accident at around 180 hours and was seriously unhappy. I really didn’t like my island – I started playing without knowing the purpose, creating a mismatched, haphazardly built island that I really wasn’t enjoying. So I restarted. Erased all that work and started over. That same principle can be applied to each of us every single day. If we’re unhappy with something – our attitude, mindset, exercise level, whatever – we can change that. Hit the restart button until you’re at ease and at peace with yourself. 


Everything changes and that’s okay.

Celebrating Summer; Island 1

You can build a perfect utopia from top to bottom, but inevitably something will change that you have no control over – like the seasons. AC:NH is set to recreate the seasons of your hemisphere, changing the available DIY crafts, ingredients and overall landscape of your island. This is not something that can be fought, but merely accepted. I do not enjoy change as a person, but playing this game has surprisingly made it a little easier to accept. (An overexaggerated reaction, but a good example nonetheless). 


Sometimes, people you love leave.

5-Star Status; Island 1

When you start your island, there are two other islanders who spawn with you. You’re able to interact with your islanders and swap gifts, etc. throughout the game. However, sometimes your islander will decide that it’s time for them to move on to another island. At first, I hated when islanders would want to leave – because I wanted them to stay with me. But just like in real life, sometimes you have to let people go so that they can be the best versions of themselves. Or alternatively, you need to let them go because they’re not good for you anymore (cough*Curlos*cough).


Just because my island looked different than others, doesn’t mean it’s bad.

Yoga by some trees; Island 2

A fun perk in AC:NH is that you’re able to visit other islands, deserted or inhabited, to trade or simply see a friend’s design. After watching a few of those 5-star island tours on Youtube though, I was feeling pretty dejected about my shabby island. Who cares? As long as I like my island and it functions for me, then it doesn’t matter. The same principle should apply to regular life too. Who cares if I’m not the same size, personality or type as someone else? It shouldn’t matter as long as I’m happy with myself. 


People can be jerks, but that doesn’t mean you should put up with it.

Turkey Day; Island 2

AC:NH contains over 400 characters that you could randomly meet or interact with. The characters are grouped by a personality trait: normal, peppy, sisterly, snooty, cranky, jock, lazy and smug. Snooty and smug villagers can be annoying to deal with, especially when they’re being rude towards other characters. You do have limited control of kicking people off the island if you so choose. There’s no reason to keep villagers or people in your life if they bring you down. Surround yourself with those who bring happiness. 


For anyone that’s looking to kill some time as we move towards another potential lockdown, maybe give Animal Crossing: New Horizons a chance. With bright colors, cute characters and a mostly stress-free gameplay, this can be a great escape for anyone experiencing heightened anxiety from lockdowns, COVID-19 or just the day to day stress of life. Spend your time fishing in lakes or growing flowers or diving for sea creatures.