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August 2016 Monthly Favorites!


It's that time of month again! No, not Aunt Flo (though she's been very dependable and on schedule lately), but that other monthly thing! My list of things that I love for this month of August! There aren't too many things on my list (I'm trying to be a good adult and not spend too much money- I have a super exciting trip coming up that I want to keep secret until I write about it on this blog! Just you wait- it's a good one!) but of course I still do have some favorites that I'd love to share with you. Hope you enjoy reading about all of the cute and creepy/Halloween-ish things I've been obsessed with this month!

Clothing & Accessories:

Photo by That Weird Girl Life

Photo by That Weird Girl Life
I found this Olde Book Purse over on ThinkGeek while I was bored out of my mind house-sitting a couple of weeks ago. I instantly fell in love with it and debated on whether or not I should get it for an upcoming trip (crossbodies with a zipper are the BEST for travel aka more difficult for pickpockets to...pickpocket it) when the very next day when I went back to stare at it longingly (I do that a lot for things I want to buy online but I know I shouldn't. I just go back everyday to stare at them and imagine how much better everything would be if I just had it in my life) and saw that ThinkGeek was having a sale on certain items, the book purse included!!! I pounced on that opportunity and I'm so happy I did.

The purse is perfect. Compact, but not too small, and the purse strap is adjustable and totally a crossbody length! And let's not even forget to mention how dang cute this purse is. It's made of faux-leather but looks like an old leather book, and it has a zipper on the top, along with a strap along the top that latches on the side of the purse to a clasp that looks like a lock. And the bottom of the purse is the spine of the book!! So genius and cute! I'm a little obsessed with this bag so I really hope it lasts a long, long time. I highly recommend it to any fellow bookworms who are looking for a new purse. Get ready for the onslaught of compliments!

Buy the Olde Book Purse from ThinkGeek here

Music:


2014 B*witched Partnership Ltd.
I loved B*Witched as a kid. LOVED them. I remember when C'est La Vie came out. It was such a big hit and B*Witched was everywhere. Those four girls were the coolest. The denim, the colorful hair streaks, the Irish accents, the snazzy dance moves. I adored them! I listened to their first CD (and their Rollercoaster single album) on repeat and bought their book when it came out (it was about them and BY them. Completely authorized!!). I was so excited to buy their second album, Awake and Breathe (a bit different from their first album. More grown up and serious. I still loved it though. But what was up with Red Indian Girl? That would not fly today!) but soon after that, I stopped hearing about B*Witched. For years I wondered where Keavy, Edele, Lindsay (my favorite), and Sinead went....

When this month (years and years later!) I somehow stumbled upon the fact that B*Witched had REUNITED (for a reality show called The Big Reunion a few years ago, but still) and MADE AN ALBUM (it only has six songs on it but still)!!!! THIS is why I need to live in the UK!!! But I digress.

Their new(ish) album is called Champagne or Guinness, and though only six songs long, it still has that classic B*Witched Irish pop sound, but more adult and modern (think more EDM and dance club ready. But not as pretentious). I freaking adore it! My favorites are Love & Money, Fighting For the Drop, We've Forgotten How, and The Stars Are Ours. It totally gave me the feels for B*Witched's glory days but also made me super happy that they could still make music just as catchy and fun as they used to.

I also binge-watched all of The Big Reunion on Youtube (the many disadvantages of not living in the UK. That and not knowing B*Witched had reunited and TOURED until years after the fact!) and just skipped to the parts with B*Witched so I could learn all of the drama that went down during the height of their fame (the other girls were jealous of Edele's solos! Edele and Lindsay literally never spoke to one another and weren't friends! Keavy was depressed! Edele and Sinead had a falling out!). It was such a trip down memory lane and so much fun to watch! However, the biggest shock for me was that Sinead is a brunette now. Things have changed!! But I'm hoping the girls will set aside the time and still make music. My sad adult life needs more new B*Witched music in it!

And just for fun, let's look at B*Witched then and now (well, a few years ago):

Then....

That denim though!!!
And now....

Daaayuuuumm, ladies! Looking fierce! Work it!

The feels!! The feels!! I can't take it!!! B*Witched forever!!

Books:

Atria/Keywords Press
Confession time: I may have purchased and read It Gets Worse in the last few days of July but am now making it an August monthly favorite. I know, I'm terrible! And I was even thinking of writing a book review of it, but soon realized that it would be an incredibly biased review because I absolutely love Shane Dawson. I started watching his videos a few years ago and was (and still am) obsessed with his daily vlogs (and his other videos, too, don't get me wrong!). I think he's absolutely hilarious, in a very irreverent and out there way. His videos never fail to make me laugh and I look forward to whenever he posts a new episode of his podcast Shane & Friends (#podsquad!). 

A year or so ago I read his first book I Hate Myselfie and liked it (not loved, just liked), but I was still looking forward to reading his new book. In my (not at all important) opinion, I thought It Gets Worse was absolutely hilarious and heartfelt and so much better than his first book (not that there was anything wrong with his first book! Again, I liked it). For all of the controversy that surrounds Shane's videos and humor (his style of comedy isn't for everyone), people forget that he's had his struggles and yet he's very open about sharing stories from his past and making what could have been utterly sad or depressing stories have a positive or humorous spin. I literally laughed out loud while reading the book, and had to blink away tears while reading a chapter or two. It was so fun and riveting that I read it late into the night, because I didn't want to stop reading until I had finished every last real life story. Shane's excellent story-telling skills are always entertaining in video form, but It Gets Worse proves that they translate just as well in the written form.

So if you're looking for a hilarious but with a hint of heartfelt and earnest memoir/books of essays, Shane's new book is definitely for you! If you read it let me know what you think!

Where to Buy:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Or, check out a copy from your local library!

Subscribe to Shane Dawson's channels:
Shane Dawson TV (Main Channel)
Shane (iPhone, vlogging, everyday videos)

Youtube Channels & Videos:

There's no denying it: I love watching YouTube. The hours I have wasted watching obscure and random videos are numerous and can't be counted. I watch a bunch of YouTubers you may have heard of (like Shane Dawson, mentioned above), but I've also discovered some new YouTube channels that I haven't been able to stop watching lately. Here are four (kind of five) that I've recently discovered:

ClevverTV and CleverStyle
But more specifically, ClevverTV's Cheat Day videos and ClevverStyle's Beauty Break videos. ClevverTV is a huge YouTube channel (and sub-channels) that offers pop culture news, celeb interviews, and entertainment. But I first found Cheat Day (all about trying extreme themed foods- good and bad. They seem to throw up a lot on it) and Beauty Break (trying out various beauty products. Informative but mostly very, very funny) through (you guessed it) Shane Dawson who has appeared on both. From there I've been ravenously watching those segments, which mainly feature ClevverTV hosts Joslyn Davis (adorable and so, so positive) and Lily Marston (my spirit animal. Loves In N Out burgers, junk food, and pizza and we have the same laid-back and casual style!). The other hosts are all entertaining, but Joslyn and Lily are my favorites and they're even better when they're together. They have an excellent back and forth and their complete opposite personalities meld perfectly together. Give both channels and segments a chance and I bet you'll fall in love (and out of your chair from laughing so hard)!

Subscribe to ClevverTV here and ClevverStyle here

Also, #yesprune! (It's a Beauty Break thing)

Corpse Husband, Lazy Masquerade, and Mr. Nightmare
I don't think it's any surprise that I'm always in the mood for something scary. Whether it's a scary book, movie, TV show or whatever, I'm in, no matter what! It's pretty much Halloween for me every single day of the year. Which leads me to these incredibly creepy and riveting YouTube Channels. If you're in the mood for lists of disturbing things (videos, photos, scary murders, websites, even Youtube videos) or just creepy readings of spooky "true" stories (close encounters with murderers, psychopaths, intruders, ghosts, and so much more!) from readers or Reddit (narrated by Corpse Husband, Lazy Masquerade, and Mr. Nightmare in a very eerie yet not over dramatic and silly way), these YouTube channels and videos have got you covered if you want to get freaked not just around Halloween, but anytime of year!

Subscribe to Corpse Husband here, Lazy Masquerade here and Mr. Nightmare here

So, what did everyone think of this month's Monthly Favorites? Let me know in the comments! See you next month for September's Monthly Favorites!!

-Emily

Necessities for the Anxious Traveler


I'm an anxious traveler. There's no denying it. Actually, scratch that first statement. I'm not an anxious traveler, I'm an anxious person. There we go. Much better. Anyway, that obviously means that as an anxious person, traveling can be emotionally and physically draining. Even though you're incredibly excited to be on a new adventure is a brand new place, it takes a LOT out of you if you're anxious and you're in a city or country where nothing is familiar. (And don't get me started on the journey to your destination! That's a whole other mess of anxiety. Security, baggage, waiting/delays, UGH) As a (somewhat) seasoned anxious traveler, I have come up with a few necessary accessories that have helped me while traveling and may help you too if you suffer from anxiety and have a trip coming up. Traveling with anxiety is all about being prepared; that's half the battle. The other half is just accepting that anxiety is going to happen. But I can only help you with the first part, so here are my top necessities for the anxious traveler! (As approved by me)

Phone
Obviously! Your phone will literally be your lifeline on a trip. You got your obvious phone and texting usefulness (make sure to change your plan so you don't get crazy phone and data charges!), you got your clock (to change to the new time zone), your alarm (so you don't oversleep and miss the plane/bus/train/tour/continental breakfast), all of those fun apps to help you in a foreign country (language apps, maps, pretty much any app you can think of), and, of course, the ever popular FaceTime and Skype just in case you really, really want to see your cat's face (just me?). When you're feeling anxious about getting lost, or you're feeling homesick, your phone will be your saving grace. Just knowing it's there (and charged! Bring your charging cord! And adapter!!!) will ease your anxiety tremendously (somewhat).

List of Important Numbers
This is another "of course!" one but having it will still give you a minor sense of control while you're on your trip. Having a master list with you (and maybe at your hotel too) of your hotel address and phone number, your tour company's phone number (in case they screw something up. It happens) emergency/police numbers, the number and address of your country's consulate in the place you're visiting, and numbers for your bank just in case your credit and debit cards get stolen (hence the extra list of numbers at your hotel room in case your purse gets snatched away from you) are a wonderful safety net to have just in case. In the perfect world, nothing will go wrong, but even if does all go to sh*t (which it totally won't, but just remember that not all things will go smoothly and that's totally okay and you can get through it!), you'll have your back up plans all ready!

Detailed Schedule
Does this sound like too much? Trust me, it's not. If you go through a travel agency, they will send you a detailed plan of where you'll be staying, what transportation they'll provide you with and what you'll be doing on certain days. If not, it's up to you and whomever you're traveling with to make these necessary arrangements and make up the schedule. Make sure your plan is detailed and you know where you and who you're traveling with are going to be and when you'll be there (especially if you get separated!) and what transportation and routes are the best/easiest for getting where you need to go (especially your hotel aka your home base!). It'll be a BIG load off your mind if you don't want to wing it. I know some people just like to wander and see where they end up, but as an anxious person (like me!) you probably get a lot of comfort from knowing exactly where you'll be and when. Trust me, you can still have fun on a schedule and it'll make sure you get to sights you see without running out of time! (Like those crazy non-planners!) Plus it'll give you that extra sense of security, especially if you add some free sections of time just so you can regroup and catch your breath (VERY important for us anxious folks. Don't forget to take care of yourself while you travel!).

Medication
If you suffer from anxiety, there's a good chance you have some handy anti-anxiety meds that you may have to use. I carry some anti-anxiety meds in my purse at all times as a safety blanket, just in case I need to use it. And 9 times out of 10 I usually don't. But when I travel, something about being stuck on an airplane for hours on end (and I'm not even afraid of flying or even claustrophobic!) and then being in a very unfamiliar place can make me pretty anxious and on edge, so sometimes taking a little bit of anti-anxiety medication is necessary to get me through a rough patch during the trip (and there will probably be a few). So please don't be embarrassed about your meds and bring them! If they help you or just give you that sense of security, they're worth bringing. The same goes for over the counter medication: I get the occasional tummy trouble (that's the least gross way of putting it that I can, haha) so I always bring an array of medications for either end of the spectrum (I don't need to explain, right? Please don't make me explain!) and I feel so much better just having them in case disaster strikes. I got a cute new travel pill case from Charming Charlie which is perfect to have in my carry on! If you have to bring meds along, they might as well be in an adorable new accessory! ;)

Snacks
Not only am I an anxious person, I'm also a picky eater with low blood sugar! (Any fellas interested in the quirky, imperfect specimen that is myself? I'm single, boys!) So I pretty much always have a snack with me in case I end up as a restaurant where I literally can't find anything that sounds good. Cliff Bars (and other granola bars with lots of protein), crackers with nut butters, nuts, and other high protein/healthy snacks are great, especially if you're stuck on a plane, bus, or subway/metro/underground and you have to skip a meal- which I highly recommend you don't! My anxiety seems to get a lot worse when I get super hungry or tired, so please eat to keep up your strength and stave off that anxiety. Traveling is stressful enough already, you don't want to add being hangry along with having anxiety!

Music
Something else that helps with plane travel for me is music. I load up my iPod (yes, I still have an iPod) with all of my old favorite songs, some new hits from today, maybe even a few oldies and show-tunes (because why not?). Anything that will help relax me in any given situation (feeling stir crazy, can't sleep, your seat is near the restrooms so you constantly have a group of people lined up in the aisle right next to you and the toilet keeps flushing. That hasn't happened to me at all), load it up on the device of your choice! Podcasts are also a great choice because they're engrossing and the time will pass in no time! (Well, not really, but it'll help) Audiobooks are also good, but make sure you charge your device beforehand or can charge it on the plane so you don't lose power in the middle of a really good part of a book (can you imagine your phone losing juice during whatever Game of Thrones book the Red Wedding is in? The horror!). Distraction is key on these long flights so come prepared! Your psyche will thank you.

Tissues
Not going to lie, if you're an anxious person like me, tears are going to happen at some point. I don't know about you, but when my anxiety gets going, but I'm trying to hide it because I'm traveling and I don't want to ruin the trip for my family. friends, or whoever else I'm traveling with (and me too! I don't want to ruin the trip for me either!), I end up internalizing all of that anxiety and it usually comes out in a big burst aka tears. Talking with a friend or loved one who knows you and your struggles will help a lot (see last entry) to curb the (maybe) inevitable breakdown, I expect at least one breakdown per trip, because traveling is so stressful and anxiety-inducing that it really seems like only a matter of time before every bad thought, feeling, or awful situation makes me literally cry everything out (though in the perfect world this WOULD NOT HAPPEN. But I'm a realist so I plan ahead!) So tissues in my purse or carry on are a must!*

*But, head's up, please don't be discouraged if you do breakdown during a trip, or have to retire to your hotel room to compose yourself for an hour or so or even the afternoon or night. Traveling is incredibly stressful for everyone, but especially for anxious people, and the fact that you're going out and doing it despite all of your fears/reservations/hesitation is a fantastic accomplishment! Take some time for yourself, have a moment, and get back to it! Giving into your anxiety is the worst thing you can do and as hard as it might be, and as much as you would like to call it a day, it's better to take the time to regroup, because you feel so much better afterwards and you're given a second chance to go out and see the world with a fresh (and hopefully not so anxious) set of eyes. Take care of you but try not to miss any of the amazing experiences you will probably come across on your trip!

Something That Reminds You of Home
For the last few trips, I've been forgetting to do this but on my next trip that's coming up, I'm making sure to bring something that reminds me of home. Whether it's a familiar scent (lotion, body spray, body wash, etc), an article of clothing that just feels so soft, cozy, and homey, or your favorite well-read and loved book, it's important to have something familiar with you when you're in a very unfamiliar place. It'll help keep you grounded and not feel so anxious about being far away from your home and loved ones. Bonus points if the sweater you bring has fur on it from your pet! (Cat hair makes everything better. Plus it might make potential pickpockets have an allergic reaction and that might prevent them from stealing your purse. You never know. It could happen!)

Have a Literal Lifeline 
Now this one is very important. If you're not traveling with someone you can confide in about your anxiety (and I would highly recommend that you would go with someone that you can talk to about your issues/worries), then you have to make sure that you can have someone back home that you can call, FaceTime, Skype, or text when you're going through a rough patch and you need to talk. Ignoring or not acknowledging your anxiety just makes it ten times worse and that's the very last thing you want to do on your trip. Just remember that anxiety will happen, and it's how you handle it, not if or when it happens (because it will happen), that matters. Having that lifeline to talk to can really help, especially if you can't seem to get a hold of your anxiety yourself, or you just need someone else's non-anxious perspective to help stop those anxious thoughts from taking over. Also, a lot like having your emergency meds with you, knowing that you have a lifeline that you can contact will be a big load off of your mind, and just knowing that they're there, in case of an emergency panic attack, will be enough. They'll be there if you need them, but you might not even have to talk to them, because you'll be so busy having fun and making new memories while taking selfies with your friends and the Mona Lisa (do people do that? Or is it way too crowded? I bet some people have done it. Challenge accepted!) and various other national treasures to worry about something as trivial as your silly anxiety! And just remember:

If you are an anxious person and you're going on a trip, you can do it! I know going on a trip, traveling to a new place, or even staying in a place that's unfamiliar is super hard, but the experiences you'll have despite all of that anxiety will be so worth it. So many memories, photos, and stories will come out of it, but more importantly, you'll also be so proud of yourself for going and showing your anxiety that it doesn't control you. If you can travel with anxiety, you can pretty much conquer anything. I believe in you! (And me. I believe in me too. I have to remind myself of that before I go on a trip, too!)


What did you think of my list? Do you use any of these tips to help you when you travel? Did I miss anything? Let me know!

-Emily

Book Review: Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay

William Morrow
Book: Disappearance at Devil's Rock

Author: Paul Tremblay

Genre: Fiction

Subgenre: Thriller, supernatural, mystery

My Review and Thoughts: Let me preface this book review by stating that I LOVED Paul Tremblay's previous book, A Head Full of Ghosts. It was the perfect blend of realistic fiction, thriller, and the (supposed) supernatural and by page two I was hooked and was literally shocked at the ending. It was well written, perfectly paced, and pretty much just a thrill ride to read. So I was incredibly excited to learn that Tremblay had a new book coming out, called Disappearance at Devil's Rock, and it would again be a work of fiction, with some supernatural undertones. I said SIGN ME UP and read it the minute it came into my library (I like to read the book from the library first, then if I actually like it, I eventually buy it. Don't worry, my favorite authors are getting money from me). But after all of this anticipation, honestly, I'm feeling pretty let down. Let me explain:

The story centers on the disappearance of fourteen year old Tommy Sanderson, last seen by his friends Luis and Josh in the state park woods where they would hang out (secretly) at a large, hill-sized rock nicknamed the Devil's Rock. Tommy's mother, Elizabeth, and Tommy's younger sister, Kate, are worried sick about Tommy as the police start searching for him- until Elizabeth sees a shadowy figure in her room who closely resembles Tommy. Then pages of Tommy's journal start mysteriously appearing page by page on the floor of the house at night. Is Tommy doing it? Is he still alive? Or is he dead? Did Josh and Luis really tell the police and Elizabeth everything that happened the night Tommy disappeared? Because according to Tommy's scribbled and sketched journals, an unknown person may have entered the boys' lives and brought the significance of Devil's Rock to a deadly outcome. Was there something unnatural afoot or was it simply a much more simple, dangerous explanation?

Sounds pretty thrilling, right? And it was. For about the first half of the book. Elizabeth was a compelling character, a mother who's husband had left her, then had himself mysteriously disappeared and was later found dead. The parallels between her past to her present with her son now missing was striking and made the foreboding quality of the wait even more nerve-wracking. The detective in charge of the case was a breath of fresh air among the chaos of the waiting and revealed secrets and familial drama that Elizabeth and Kate went through. The teenage boys relationship between Tommy, Luis, and Josh were further and realistically explored via Josh's and Luis's flashbacks of the events that transpired between the three, along with Tommy's handwritten and illustrated journal entries of which Elizabeth and Kate would discover a page almost every day. The added bonus of a potential supernatural element also added a creepy and sinister quality, along with the supposed folk story of how Devil's Rock got its name (yes, the devil apparently had something to do with it) and how it tied into Tommy's disappearance.

But after the first half, things started to fizzle. What used to seem well written and well paced now seemed to drag and felt too descriptive, as if the author was trying to fill in the story more before it reached a very vague and unfulfilling conclusion. I expected the ending to be somewhat ambiguous and mysterious, but instead we were given the full story, of exactly what happened, and I felt let down, because I had already pretty much guessed what probably had gone down that night. Yes, there was a fair amount of ambiguity at the end and during the climax, secrets were revealed, the motives and emotions of the parties involved twisted and contorted from that the events that let to the deadly conclusion of Tommy's disappearance. And the sequence where Elizabeth reads the interviews of the people involved that night and her reaction (more like lack of reaction, actually) and her coming to terms with the facts are beautifully and truthfully written. Yet that dramatic series of emotions wasn't enough to appease me of the story lines or even the characters. I was still left feeling very unsatisfied of the book in general. And to me, that was the most frightening part of reading the book.

Should You Read It: Unfortunately, I didn't really like the book. I really, really wanted to! But it felt like, even though wonderfully written, I had almost heard this same story before. Maybe it's because I like to read/watch thrillers/horror books/movies, that I really felt like nothing in it was too surprising or original. But if you haven't read too many horror/thriller books and don't know many of the tropes (and surprisingly, there really weren't any in the book. Which made the conclusion even more disappointing), then you may find the book a tense and entertaining read. Sadly, I didn't feel that way.


Did anyone else read Disappearance at Devil's Rock? What did you think of it? Did you like it? Let me know so we can discuss! (I love discussing books!)

-Emily

Where to Buy:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Or, check out a copy from your local library!

Goodreads:
Disappearance at Devil's Rock
Author Page

Check Out the Author:
Official Author Website

My Week Without: Social Media!


A week ago I decided to do something that most would not be able to do or wouldn't even attempt to do: I decided to go a week without social media.

That's right. That meant no Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest (surprisingly I don't have a Snapchat account). Pretty much none of the apps or services that would connect me with others.

The biggest reason I decided to do this was because I was feeling bogged down by the constant stream of information that was being constantly bombarded at me through these sites, especially Facebook. I (usually) love hearing from my friends and family, but constantly seeing all of these announcements (engagement, wedding, baby, dating, new house, new pet, etc.), travel photos, and just overall bragging was getting to be too much. It was making me feel inferior and like I needed to post more things and pictures about my life and how great things were, just to feel relevant and like I mattered. I started to dread checking my Facebook and Instagram and had to steel myself for the onslaught of good news and images, and instead was turning to Twitter (for the blogger community) and Pinterest (because, well, it's Pinterest) exclusively instead. But even then I noticed that those two were constantly taking up my time. I even started looking through Pinterest while watching TV and movies and was missing big chunks of the plot line. (To be fair I am researching ideas for new Halloween decor crafts. So at least it's a semi-useful waste of time. Of crafts I'm never going to make or attempt to do. Ahem)

I decided that I needed to detox and take a break from social media. Facebook and Instagram were making me feel worse about myself and Twitter and Pinterest were sucking up my time. It was time to put away my iPhone, iPad, iPod, and laptop (surprisingly, not an Apple product) and take a much needed vacation from constant notifications and not very relevant information (to me).

I made a few rules for myself:

I allowed myself texting (of course. I didn't want to be cut off from my immediate friends and family) and to able to watch Youtube and Netflix and check Buzzfeed and Bloglovin' so I could attempt to stave off boredom. But other than that, I couldn't check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Not a peek, quick click, even to get rid of all of those pesky red numbers indicting how many live notifications you're missing out on (I love Buzzfeed but I honestly don't care when they go live. Sorry, guys).

Baby pictures, engagement announcements, "hilarious" shared videos that no one else thinks is funny, and slightly disturbing political rants would have to wait a week. I was on a mission! Monday to Monday, I'll be social media free. And here's what I learned from going a week without social media:

You Don't Realize How Bored You Think You Are Until You Force Yourself To Put Down Your Phone
I never realized how bored I thought I got until I finally put down my phone. Anytime I had to wait (at the doctor's office, at a store in line at the register) I would always check my phone and the multiple social media apps I had installed on it. But starting that Monday I just couldn't. I had to suffer through the boredom, or I just checked my e-mail if I felt I just had to look busy on my phone (it probably would look strange to be a reading a book in line at Target). It made me realize that even though I denied it, I was very attached to my phone and used it as a cure for "boredom" and a source of distraction. Instead, I just learned to either people watch (while at a store in line) or if I'm in a waiting room, bring a book (much more appropriate than in a Target).

You'll Want to Check Your Phone- All the Damn Time
And it's so frustrating not to be able to. The compulsion is real, as well as the fear of missing out (FOMO) on whatever may be going on in a friend's (or that random friend of a friend of a friend that you added because you met them once five years ago. We all have at least five of those on our friends list) life. I literally picked up my phone dozens of times that first Monday (and Tuesday and Wednesday) to check on my Facebook or Instagram, before remembering I couldn't. But as the days wore on, it got better and I only checked my e-mail/the news/surfed the web a few times a day. Which was a great reduction from what seems like the dozen times I would check social media before that!

You Actually Have to Look Up the News (The Actual News, Not Social Media Drama)
Like, a lot. I used to check my phone for news from Facebook right when I woke up and during breakfast (and by news I mean the stuff that popped in from news sources I had liked that were in between all of my friends', friends of friends', and relatives' status updates) but during my week without checking social media, I had to actually check out news websites or even watch the news on TV (people still do that!) to see what was going on with the world. But the breaking news that people talk about will always be on news sites or TV, not the kind of (non)relevant news that seems to spread and across your Facebook page and friends (who got pregnant! Who's getting a divorce! Who's so in love that they have to post a million selfies and themselves and their significant others to stuff down our throats! We get it, if you guys break up love will die), so you're really not missing much. I learned that if people need you, they'll text or call you, not post something on your page. And that it's kind of delightful to watch an actual news anchor tell you the news, not some radical distant relative who's damning a certain politician to hell via a status update. (So basically, non-biased news)

You Start Using Your Phone for the Actual Reasons It Was Made
Without social media I was forced to text more and use the actual phone part of my phone (I think people forget about that original feature), and I have to admit, it's pretty refreshing to do something pretty simple without getting distracted by someone's new engagement pictures (gag. No offense) instead of replying to your friend's tweet or Facebook message.

You Suddenly Have a Bunch of Free Time
Without social media, my time was now mine. I didn't realize how much time I devoted to checking all of my social media accounts. Facebook took up most of my waking up and falling asleep time. Ditto with Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. But now that I didn't have to check them (as if I didn't have a choice, HA), I had all the time in the world! I could sit and read a book without checking my phone every few pages (I may have been guilty of that. Sometimes. Maybe) and I could watch an entire movie and not have to rewind because I missed a part because I was reading someone's Instagram caption and all of the comments underneath it (yes, I'm guilty of that too). My time was mine and even though I still felt compelled to check my phone those first few days, eventually that wore away and I started to feel relieved that I wasn't chained to my phone anymore.

You Finally Realize That Social Media Is Just a Form of Connection- It Doesn't Have to Be Anything More (And It's Not)
Social media is just that: a way to connect with others, share information and pictures, and communicate. It wasn't intended to become a forum for bragging or making others feel jealous or bad about themselves (at least, I hope so. Mark Zuckerberg, was this your evil idea all along??). Just remember that every picture/selfie you see posted on Facebook, no matter how candid, was posed for and probably taken a few dozen times, then edited until it was finally that "perfect" picture capturing how happy that couple is and the description of how blessed and successful they are was probably rewritten a handful of times. People on Facebook don't post about their problems (unless they're going through a nasty breakup and they vent. That's another reason I took a break from social media. Where there are five people bragging about how great their lives are, there's one person who's spewing hate towards their ex and listing everything wrong with them. It's almost as bad as the bragging but I relate more to the hate. I'm a dark person, what can I say), just the good things to brag and get the likes, as if to prove that yes, since they posted it, it is real and great and everyone should know it. After my week long break, I think I've slightly detached from the social media life and can see it what for really is: it's not real life, it's just a way for people to display the happy and perfect things about their lives aka share their lives with others and vice versa (but more the happy people sharing). Try not to focus too much to the virtual social media life and focus on your real life, not the drama that comes along with social media.


So in conclusion...

As hard as the first few days were of not checking social media. I actually relished the week-long vacation from it. I didn't have to worry about seeing engagement pictures (that make me question my own singledom and wonder how some women can actually land a man who wants to commit to them), "cute" baby pictures that only the parents of the child think are cute (you know you are!), and travel photos (how can they afford to go to Dubai????). But in all honesty, when today (Monday) came around, I was actually afraid of checking my social media because I was afraid of how much I missed and would I have to catch up on everything that everyone posted on their individual timelines? Turns out, nothing too exciting happened (in social media world) and I actually got pretty bored looking through everyone's updates, pictures, tweets, and pins. In fact, I've only checked social media a few times today. The fact that I'm not as attached to my phone and checking it is exhilarating. It also put into perspective that I should stop trying to focus on how I'm portrayed and how I'm seen on social media (new profile picture! Filters! Clever tweets!) and start focusing on me in my real life. Less selfies, more self-actualization! *flexed arm emoji*

I would most definitely suggest a week-long break to anyone who's feeling bogged down from social media and just needs a real life break to focus on themselves, not the lives of others. Would you guys try it? Could you make it a week? I honestly didn't think I would for the first few days, but I ended up going all the way without breaking! Let me know what you think! ♥

-Emily

My Thoughts On "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" (No Spoilers)

Little Brown UK/That Weird Girl Life
Words cannot describe how excited I was for the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child script book. Especially since I am not one of the lucky people who live in England, or near it, who were and are able to see the play, or even have the money and time (but mostly the money) to travel to go see it. But thankfully for us normal folks, July 31st (JK Rowling's and Harry Potter's shared birthday) came around and the book was released! I had ordered mine from Amazon and was disappointed that because it was released on a Sunday they couldn't do same day delivery (like they used to on all of the other Harry Potter book releases at no extra charge) but thank jeebus that after much moaning and groaning and going on a Twitter rant directed at Amazon (sorry about that guys!), it arrived on my doorstep Monday morning! Phew! I started reading it that afternoon and didn't surface until I finished it a few hours later (it's a script, not an actual book so it read pretty quickly).

I knew that once I finished the book I wanted to either write a review or recommendation while simultaneously singing its praises but now that it's been four days since I've read it and processed it...I'm still processing it.

It's so weird for me to admit, but I don't know how I feel about the script! I for sure thought that before I read it that it was going to be amazing and bring me right back into that magical world but in all honesty I just don't know what to think about it. The overall story (which was created by JK Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne) seemed plausible, but not at all likely with how JK Rowling ended Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. And while it was incrediblly satisfying to see and hear about some of my favorite characters, I seriously wondered about how they were portrayed and some of the action and dialogue attached to those characters. Which made me think: was I just used to Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Draco as young kids and teens and how they would act back in the original books? Or was I just weirded out by the fact that they were now older and parents to young kids and I couldn't identify with their motivations and actions because I didn't relate to these older versions anymore?

Or was it something even worse: is it because that though the story is straight out of JK Rowling's imagination and the wizarding world she herself has created, the actual script was written by someone else, mainly Jack Thorne? The play (in my opinion) seems to be missing that grounding element that made the Harry Potter books so identifiable and complete and it makes you wonder if the same plot, situations, and characters would have been more engaging and true if Rowling herself had actually written the play.

Which leads me to another thought: the fact that the book is not a book, but is just a script, with just the dialogue and minimal descriptions of settings and some action. A real book would be overflowing with descriptions, so the reader can be in the know, sometimes even more so than the characters themselves. And while we may have read the script, only a small group (compared to the now millions of people who have read the script book) have seen the actual play, and I wonder if the people who have seen the play are much more satisfied with the way the story and characters were presented. Perhaps seeing the story physically unfold before our eyes is the missing key to those (like me) who are left feel unfulfilled. And unfortunately, I, along with many others, aren't able to see the play just yet, so this question will have to go unanswered until the play is (hopefully) performed in other parts of the world (the Muggle world, not the wizarding one).

I wish I could be like one of those people that absolutely loved it, or even like the people who think it just reads like wish-fulfilling fan-fiction, but I'm somewhere in between. I'm overjoyed that JK Rowling is continuing to let us revisit Harry and co. once more but at the same time, something key about the play just feels like it's missing and leaves me wanting*

*But I still love you JK Rowling, please don't ever stop writing/producing Harry Potter wizarding world content!!! Seriously, what is a world without Harry Potter??


So, who else has read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? What did you honestly think of it? Loved it? Hated it? Let me know in the comments!

-Emily

Being Non-Photogenic In a Photo-centric World



In a world of selfies and status updates, everyone wants to take a picture to commemorate a moment, no matter how meaningful or trivial. I'm one of those people, but unfortunately I have a MAJOR disadvantage: I'm not photogenic. At all.

At least in my very humble (and right) opinion. Despite my non-photogenic ways, I still take selfies. How else am I supposed to prove I exist in a world that revolves around social media? (I'm being sarcastic here) That's really the only mode of picture taking of myself that I approve of, since I usually take about 20+ pics before I finally find one that makes me look decent and somewhat human (seriously, most of the time I take a selfie I either look like I'm possessed by a demon named Pazuzu or else one of my selfies would be perfect as a mugshot if I ever become a drug addict/criminal).

But when it comes to group shots with other people....*shudders* That's where I get scared because that's where I usually look the worst and I feel like I need to prepare before they happen. You can't insist on your friends to take too many pictures just because you keep blurring in the shots like you're some sort of ghostly presence caught on camera (yes, that has happened to me. Everything has happened to me in pictures) And don't get me started on candid shots aka pictures at parties or weddings where I always seem to have a "resting murderer face" (yes, it's a thing BECAUSE THAT'S HOW I LOOK IN ALL CANDID SHOTS).

This post is for anyone who's not photogenic and it explains what I through whenever someone decides to whip out their phone or camera for a "fun" photo (fun = HELL, for us non-photogenic folks). If you are photogenic, well, lucky you, but for the rest of us it's not so easy. Read on to find out why!

-Knowing That Photos Will Be Taken is a Nightmare

Girls night out? Pictures will be taken. A wedding/bridal shower/bachelorette party? Pictures. Birthdays/family reunions/vacations? Pictures, pictures, everywhere! No event or moment is safe from memorializing that exact time in your life. So you steel yourself and prepare. Friends and relatives with smartphones and cameras are coming.

-You Practice Posing in the Mirror Before a Night Out

Of course, there's the hand on the arm and the slightly bent knee thing that every single girl in a group shot goes with but when you're caught off guard (or very awkward, like myself) you usually end up just standing like a deer caught in the headlights ready to leap out of the road once your brain kicks back in. So you practice in the mirror and pray that despite all of this practicing that when it comes to group shots you can hide behind your friends and just poke your head out. I've had many group pictures where I'm just a floating head behind people and honestly, in those pictures I've never looked better. No worrying about arms or what your angle your body should be in based on where the camera is, it's AMAZING. Be a floating head, it's great!

-When Your Friends Want to Take a Group Photo You Scream Internally

It will be fun, they said. We'll all look so cute, they said. Why do you look like you just saw the Ring, they ask. Seven days, you answer back and the phone rings.

-You Usually Try to Make a Silly Face Instead of Smiling Because When You End Up Smiling You Look Like the Joker Or Possibly Like You Just Committed the Perfect Murder and Are Pleased With the Place You Hid the Body and Are Sure You'll Never Be Caught*

Duck faces and sticking out your tongue Miley Cyrus-esque are annoying in all pictures and selfies, but they can save your life if you can't figure out how to smile naturally for photos. But dammit, even when you have to take a smiling picture, you try, even if it turns out terrible! "I was having a great time at the wedding, I swear!"

*Or is that just me when I smile? I feel like I give off a very creepy vibe in photos. I need to work on that. Back to practicing posing my face in the mirror!

-You Always Blink in Photos

I can't count how many times I've had to have my school pictures retaken because I always ended up blinking or half blinking in the pictures, like I was the elementary school class drunk. It came to be such a problem that whenever I knew a picture would be taken I would just open my eyes really wide and try not to blink even after the flash went off. Which made me looks like a raccoon caught digging through the trash by a person with a flashlight, by hey, my eyes were open! (If not bright red like that aforementioned demon was trying to show itself)

-You Take Approximately 100+ Pictures Before Finding the Perfect Selfie

And then you've used up all the space on your phone and then it feels like it's judging you, as if none of the selfies you've taken are good enough to be on your phone so you better delete every picture you've ever taken and start again. Siri demands it. Not to mention once you pick an acceptable selfie, you filter the sh*t out of it. "There! I'm a passable human being!"

-Seeing All of Those Said Photos On Social Media is Cringe-worthy

Me flipping through tagged photos: "I don't look like that in real life...at all!" To my friends: "You delete those pictures or we are never speaking again!!!" (I'm a great friend)

-But When You Finally See That One Decent Shot of Yourself....

You relish in the glory of that one perfect picture where you look like you, but happy and natural. (Unlike the other photos where you look like you've been kidnapped and forced to take a picture by your captor to send to your family to prove that everything is okay and also that the captors need your family to send them $100,000 and you're actually cringing because you know your family will scoff and say "she's not worth that much! We love the cat more than her!") You save that sh*t and make it your profile picture for the next year and a half. Because that's how long it's going to take for you to get another perfect photo that for once didn't come for a selfie. But it'll happen again. Someday. And you look forward to it wistfully, but until then, you have to come to terms with being non-photogenic. *sigh*

-Candid Shots

Let's not even go there.


So my fellow non-photogenic people, do you relate to any of this? I would much rather take the picture than be in pictures, but I'm trying to be more brave and less critical of my appearance. Bad pictures happen, more often to me than anyone else, but still! I hope you liked the article I had a blast writing it! ♥

-Emily,
that non-photogenic girl that ruins group photos 7 out of 10 times (that's me!)